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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/D048664/1
Title: Microfluidic Microdroplet Reactors
Principal Investigator: Abell, Professor C
Other Investigators:
de Mello, Professor AJ Robinson, Professor CV Huck, Professor W
Hollfelder, Professor F
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 May 2006 Ends: 31 October 2010 Value (£): 4,847,472
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Analytical Science Biological & Medicinal Chem.
Combinatorial Chemistry Instrumentation Eng. & Dev.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
We plan to generate a novel platform technology for experimental science, and demonstrate its utility by applying it to the identification of novel biological catalysts for chemical reactions. The key features of the technology will be its speed, scale and general utility. Individual reactions will take place inside microdroplets of water carried in a fluorocarbon continuous phase within microfluidic channels. These microreactors will be load up with the components for a reaction. Additional compounds can then be added by fusing a droplet with a second droplet. Once a reaction has occurred in a droplet the presence of product will be determined either spectroscopically or by mass spectrometry. Mass spectrometry has the advantage that it can provide high resolution structural information. However interfacing it with microdroplets is an unexplored and very challenging part of the proposal. In this way new catalysts will be identified which can then be improved by taking them through several rounds of selection.A modular device will be assembled that load, fuse, incubate sort and split droplets and present then to either a spectroscopic or mass spectrometric screen. The fabrication of this device, and especially the integration of the various components is a significant challenge, and will be the main focus of the first part of the project.We plan to use this modular device for the discovery of novel biological catalysts. These will either be enzymes that incorporate new functionality, or enzymes from unusual organisms. This is an example of an important project that will become more accessible using the system we develop than using than with existing approaches. We expect to get an efficiency enhancement of over 104. The project is multidisciplinary and at the forefront of several areas: the use of microdroplets, the use of microfluidics for lab-on-a-chip applications, the use of mass spectrometry, and the directed evolution of enzymes. It will be possible to customise the devices we generate to tackle a broad range of problems in biological, chemical and materials science.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.cam.ac.uk