The DropBot system is described in detail in "Fobel et al., Appl. Phys. Lett. 102, 193513 (2013); doi: 10.1063/1.4807118". If you use this information in work that you publish, please cite as appropriate.

DropBot is an open-source Digital Microfluidic (DMF) automation system developed in the Wheeler Lab. It features a modular and extensible design, an intuitive user interface, and is capable of driving up to 320 independent channels. It also provides dynamic impedance sensing which enables closed-loop control and real-time measurement of:

  • drop position
  • instantaneous drop velocity
  • electrostatic driving force


System overview

DropBot is built around an Arduino-based instrument and is controlled by a custom software interface called Microdrop. Users can activate/deactivate electrodes on the DMF device by clicking their mouse on the webcam video overlay, providing an intuitive interface with real-time visual feedback. Sequences of actuation steps can be pre-programmed and run automatically, enabling fully automated operation. The system is designed as a loosely-coupled set of modules, which means that it is relatively easy to extend the hardware and/or software capabilities.

Open-source

All components are open-source, subject to the GPL (software code) or Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence (hardware designs), meaning you are free to make your own.

Get involved

If you have any comments or questions, or would like to collaborate on the development of this project, please join the development mailing list. For announcements concerning future releases/updates, join the announce list or to receive email updates from our ticket tracker, subscribe to the ticket list.


Videos

Real-time control and velocity measurements

Demonstration of real-time drop control and protocol programming. This video also highlights the systems ability to measure drop velocity from electrical impedance.

Automated protocol with video overlay

Video showing an automated protocol with drop dispensing, merging, mixing and splitting.


Software

Microdrop software

Microdrop is the graphical user interface for the DropBot DMF automation system.

Control board software

The control board software consists of Arduino firmware, a Python module for communicating over a serial connection, and a plugin for the Microdrop application.


Hardware

All hardware designs can be viewed or edited using KiCAD or Sketchup.

Control board

Signal generator board

High-voltage switching board

Pogo pin connector board

Device connector

DropBot case