Mixing and jetting analysis using continuous flow microfluidic sample delivery devices (2020)
Serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) methods used at X-ray free electron lasers (XFELs) offer a range of new opportunities for structural biology. A crucial component of SFX experiments is sample delivery. Microfluidic devices can be employed in SFX experiments to precisely deliver microcrystals to the X-ray beam and to trigger molecular dynamics via rapid mix-and-inject measurements. Here, for the first time, we have developed a process based on high-resolution photolithography using SU8 on glass to fabricate microfluidic mix-and-inject devices. In order to characterise these devices a broad range of flow rates are used and the mixing and jetting response of the devices monitored. We observe that a stable jet is formed using these devices when injecting DI-water. Three different jetting regimes, liquid column, ribbon, and cylindrical jet, were observed. Furthermore, fluorescence experiments confirm that rapid and uniform mixing of the two injected solutions is possible using these devices indicating that they could be used to probe molecular dynamics on sub-microsecond timescales.