The Droplet Microarray


Aquarray, a German biotech company, is developing a proprietary technology platform, the Droplet Microarray (DMA), which enables highly miniaturized assays, screenings and analyzes.

It is a perfect combination: M2-Automation dispensing technology meets glass slides with functionalized surfaces that capture liquids without physical barriers.

Hydrophilic areas enclosed by a superhydrophobic surface allow precise control over the size, shape and placement of the dispensed microdroplets. On contact, the liquid is naturally drawn into the hydrophilic area. Droplet migration is prevented by local differences in wettability. The geometry of the spot, whether circular or rectangular, is determined by the surface design and not by the interaction between the liquid and the wetted surface.
In short, these hydrophilic anchors make life incredibly easy!

(c) Magali Hauser, KIT

Miniaturization of microplate assays beyond the 384-well format is a major technical challenge due to surface tension and capillary effects. However, some applications, such as synthetic biology, combinatorial chemistry, process analytics and personalized medicine require further miniaturization for reasons of applicability, availability of reagents and materials, and cost. A new approach is needed to advance the development of assay miniaturization.
Aquarray's technology offers such a solution: the Droplet Microarray (DMA).

Key Advantages

  • Droplet volume per spot from 10 nl to 5 µl
  • Reproducible arrays/grids on slides streamline automated readouts
  • Dispensed droplets are held stably in place due to the superhydrophobic background, improving reproducibility during sampling
  • Wide range of patterns resulting in a range of 80 to 6048 spots per DMA, exceeding the throughput of microplates
  • Standard microscope slide format with options for different coatings and spot geometries

Application example: biological assays

  • Cell-based screenings
  • Microscopic readout, e.g. fluorescence, morphology
  • The number of cells required is low, between 1 and 5000 cells, depending on spot size
  • Many experiments with rare cell types possible (biopsy)
  • On-chip compound libraries pre-printed on the array