To combat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections there is a need for rapid discovery of new antibiotic drugs. Traditionally antibiotic testing is performed by methods such as an antimicrobial susceptibility test (AST) that requires longer analysis time. New techniques such as MALDI-TOF mass spectroscopy and nucleic acid amplification tests provide comparatively rapid results, however, their drawbacks include high cost, less precise resistance detection, and bulky apparatus.

Droplet microfluidic devices enable the formation and storage of micro-scaled droplets with desired dimensions, encapsulation of a single cell or a bacterium for drug screening, and real-time monitoring of the culture. Even though some droplet-based devices have been developed, there is a need for high throughput screening devices. With the proposed new layout and design of a parallel microfluidic device, the researchers aim to develop an adaptable, robust, and high throughput device.

Technology Overview

The device is fabricated using a soft-lithography approach providing a flexible stature to create inlets and outlets. The device is firmly bonded on a flat surface and tubing is attached. The flow of samples is accurately controlled by syringe pumps attached to the tubing. The design includes 6 interconnected individual devices, where each device consists of a serpentine mixer for equally mixing fluids from two laminar flows, a flow-focusing droplet generator, followed by an array for housing more than several thousands of droplets with diameters in the µm range. There are two types of inlets; one for an individual device, and the other for multiple devices. Oil channels and inlets maintain the flow resistance. Two outlets are included for each device; one for discarding waste, and the other works only while filling the array. 

Thus, with this design, the throughput of the device is increased by adopting a larger array to guarantee a sufficient filling rate of droplet for screening and integrating parallel devices to achieve different combinations of samples. 


  • Rapid analysis as pre-amplification is not required
  • Mixed analytes in one sample can be tested by interconnecting two devices
  • Screening of different combinations of drugs and bacteria is possible 
  • High throughput: Simultaneous monitoring of more samples
  • Time-lapse microscopy for real-time analysis


  • Rapid diagnostic for bacterial infections (e.g. UTI’s and others)
  • Drug-screening applications in the pharmaceutical industry
  • Discovery of new antibiotic drugs against a wide array of bacteria
  • On-chip incubators for bacterial cultures


  •  License
  • Partnering 
  • Research collaboration


IP Status

Pending PCT Application: PCT/US2019/043325

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Vaibhav Saini
Senior Manager Commercialization
Northeastern University
Wenjing Kang
Tania Konry