Two-phase flow microfluidics is emerging as a popular technology for a wide range of applications involving high throughput such as encapsulation, chemical synthesis and biochemical assays. Within this platform, the formation and merging of droplets inside an immiscible carrier fluid are two key procedures: (i) the emulsification step should lead to a very well controlled drop size (distribution); and (ii) the use of droplet as micro-reactors requires a reliable merging. A novel trend within this field is the use of additional active means of control besides the commonly used hydrodynamic manipulation. Electric fields are especially suitable for this, due to quantitative control over the amplitude and time dependence of the signals, and the flexibility in designing micro-electrode geometries. With this, the formation and merging of droplets can be achieved on-demand and with high precision. In this review on two-phase flow microfluidics, particular emphasis is given on these aspects. Also recent innovations in microfabrication technologies used for this purpose will be discussed.
The review article is published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences and is free to access.