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Microfluidics has developed into a mature field with applications across science and engineering, having particular commercial success in molecular diagnostics, next-generation sequencing, and bench-top analysis. Despite its ubiquity, the complexity of designing and controlling custom microfluidic devices present major barriers to adoption, requiring intuitive knowledge gained from years of experience. If these barriers were overcome, microfluidics could miniaturize biological and chemical research for non-experts through fully-automated platform development and operation. The intuition of microfluidic experts can be captured through machine learning, where complex statistical models are trained for pattern recognition and subsequently used for event prediction. Integration of machine learning with microfluidics could significantly expand its adoption and impact. Here, we present the current state of machine learning for the design and control of microfluidic devices, its possible applications, and current limitations.Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 9, 2023
Droplet-based microfluidic devices hold immense potential in becoming inexpensive alternatives to existing screening platforms across life science applications, such as enzyme discovery and early cancer detection. However, the lack of a predictive understanding of droplet generation makes engineering a droplet-based platform an iterative and resource-intensive process. We present a web-based tool, DAFD, that predicts the performance and enables design automation of flow-focusing droplet generators. We capitalize on machine learning algorithms to predict the droplet diameter and rate with a mean absolute error of less than 10
μm and 20 Hz. This tool delivers a user-specified performance within 4.2% and 11.5% of the desired diameter and rate. We demonstrate that DAFD can be extended by the community to support additional fluid combinations, without requiring extensive machine learning knowledge or large-scale data-sets. This tool will reduce the need for microfluidic expertise and design iterations and facilitate adoption of microfluidics in life sciences.