Progress in all-aqueous droplets generation with microfluidics: Mechanisms of formation and stability improvements

Chunmei Zhou, Pingan Zhu, Ye Tian, Rui Shi, Liqiu Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


All-aqueous systems have attracted intensive attention as a promising platform for applications in cell separation, protein partitioning, and DNA extraction, due to their selective separation capability, rapid mass transfer, and good biocompatibility. Reliable generation of all-aqueous droplets with accurate control over their size and size distribution is vital to meet the increasingly growing demands in emulsion-based applications. However, the ultra-low interfacial tension and large effective interfacial thickness of the water–water interface pose challenges for the generation and stabilization of uniform all-aqueous droplets, respectively. Microfluidics technology has emerged as a versatile platform for the precision generation of all-aqueous droplets with improved stability. This review aims to systematize the controllable generation of all-aqueous droplets and summarize various strategies to improve their stability with microfluidics. We first provide a comprehensive review on the recent progress of all-aqueous droplets generation with microfluidics by detailing the properties of all-aqueous systems, mechanisms of droplet formation, active and passive methods for droplet generation, and the property of droplets. We then review the various strategies used to improve the stability of all-aqueous droplets and discuss the fabrication of biomaterials using all-aqueous droplets as liquid templates. We envision that this review will benefit the future development of all-aqueous droplet generation and its applications in developing biomaterials, which will be useful for researchers working in the field of all-aqueous systems and those who are new and interested in the field.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiophysics Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


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