A portable, shock-proof, surface-heated droplet PCR system for Escherichia coli detection

Scott V. Angus, Soohee Cho, Dustin K. Harshman, Jae Young Song, Jeong Yeol Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


A novel polymerase chain reaction (PCR) device was developed that uses wire-guided droplet manipulation (WDM) to guide a droplet over three different heating chambers. After PCR amplification, end-point detection is achieved using a smartphone-based fluorescence microscope. The device was tested for identification of the 16S rRNA gene V3 hypervariable region from Escherichia coli genomic DNA. The lower limit of detection was 103 genome copies per sample. The device is portable with smartphone-based end-point detection and provides the assay results quickly (15min for a 30-cycle amplification) and accurately. The system is also shock and vibration resistant, due to the multiple points of contact between the droplet and the thermocouple and the Teflon film on the heater surfaces. The thermocouple also provides real-time droplet temperature feedback to ensure it reaches the set temperature before moving to the next chamber/step in PCR. The device is equipped to use either silicone oil or coconut oil. Coconut oil provides additional portability and ease of transportation by eliminating spilling because its high melting temperature means it is solid at room temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-368
Number of pages9
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
StatePublished - Dec 5 2015


  • 16S rRNA
  • Coconut oil
  • Contact angle
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Smartphone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry


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