Fully integrated digital microfluidics platform for automated immunoassay; a versatile tool for rapid, specific detection of a wide range of pathogens
With the tangible threat posed by the release of chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents, detection of airborne pathogens is a critical military and security concern. Recent air sampling techniques developed for biocollection take advantage of Electrowetting on Dielectric (EWOD) to recover material, producing highly concentrated droplet samples. Bespoke EWOD-based digital microfluidics platforms are very well suited to take full advantage of the microlitre concentrated droplet resulting from this recovery process. In this paper we present a free-standing, fully automated DMF platform for immunoassay. Using this system, we demonstrate the automated detection of four classes of CBW agent simulant biomolecules and organisms each representing credible threat agents. Taking advantage of the full magnetic separation process with antibody-bound microbeads, rapid and complete separation of specific target antigen can be achieved with minimal washing steps allowing for very rapid detection. Here, we report clear detection of four categories of antigens achieved with assay completion times of between six and ten minutes. Detection of HSA, Bacillus atrophaeus (BG spores), MS2 bacteriophage and Escherichia coli are demonstrated with estimated limit of detection of respectively 30 ng ml -1, 4 × 10 4 cfu ml -1, 10 6 pfu ml -1 and 2 × 10 7 cfu ml -1. The fully-integrated portable platform described in this paper is highly compatible with the next generation of electrowetting-coupled air samplers and thus shows strong potential toward future in-field deployable biodetection systems and could have key implication in life-changing sectors such as healthcare, environment or food security.