Miniaturizing the miniature: Liquid droplets as miniscule reactors


Even though microreactors are performing an increasing number ofchemical and biological reactions better than conventionalmacroreactors, their weaknesses are being observed and overcome.A recent method is to conduct reactions inside liquid microdroplets.Each droplet contains all the reagents and catalysts required and theconditions are controlled to promote the most favorable processes.By populating a microreactor with millions of microdroplets, eachperforming as a complete reactor or sub-reactor, it is possible todistribute different reactions at different rates. Then the dropletsmay be fused or fissioned as required so that complementaryprocesses are brought into contact with one another at theappropriate points in time. The present article provides an overviewof the width and potential of this new and exciting technologyacross chemical and biological applications.

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