Serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) is a powerful technique that uses X-ray free-electron lasers (XFEL) to determine structures of biomolecular complexes. Specifically, it benefits the study of atomic resolution structures of large membrane protein complexes and time-resolved reactions with crystallography. One major drawback of SFX studies with XFELs is the consumption of large amounts of a protein crystal sample to collect a complete X-ray diffraction data set for high-resolution crystal structures. This increases the time and resources required for sample preparation and experimentation. The intrinsic pulsed nature of all current X-ray sources is a major reason why such large amounts of sample are required. Any crystal sample that is delivered in the path of the X-ray beam during its "off-time" is wasted. To address this large sample consumption issue, we developed a 3D printed microfluidic system with integrated metal electrodes for water-in-oil droplet generation to dynamically create and manipulate aqueous droplets. We demonstrate on-demand droplet generation using DC potentials and the ability to tune the frequency of droplet generation through the application of AC potentials. More importantly, to assist with the synchronization of droplets and XFEL pulses, we show that the device can induce a phase shift in the base droplet generation frequency. This novel approach to droplet generation has the potential to reduce sample waste by more than 95% for SFX experiments with XFELs performed with liquid jets and can operate under low- and high-pressure liquid injection systems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry