Electrochemiluminescence (ECL) is a sensitive analytical technique with great promise for biological applications, especially when combined with microfluidics. Here, we report the first integration of ECL with digital microfluidics (DMF). ECL detectors were fabricated into the ITO-coated top plates of DMF devices, allowing for the generation of light from electrically excited luminophores in sample droplets. The new system was characterized by making electrochemical and ECL measurements of soluble mixtures of tris(phenanthroline)ruthenium(II) and tripropylamine (TPA) solutions. The system was then validated by application to an oligonucleotide hybridization assay, using magnetic particles bearing 21-mer, deoxyribose analogues of the complement to microRNA-143 (miRNA-143). The system detects single nucleotide mismatches with high specificity, and has a limit of detection of 1.5 femtomoles. The system is capable of detecting miRNA-143 in cancer cell lysates, allowing for the discrimination between the MCF-7 (less aggressive) and MDA-MB-231 (more aggressive) cell lines. We propose that DMF-ECL represents a valuable new tool in the microfluidics toolbox for a wide variety of applications.
Shamsi, Mohtashim H., Choi, Kihwan, Ng, Alphonsus H., Chamberlain, Michael D. and Wheeler, Aaron R. "Electrochemiluminescence on digital microfluidics for microRNA analysis." Biosensors and Bioelectronics (Fall 2015). doi:doi:10.1016/j.bios.2015.10.036.