Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Aerospace Engineering


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

First Advisor

Hyejin Moon


Microfluidic devices have allowed improved cell culture studies to be carried out by allowing greater spatiotemporal control over the cell environment while at the same time providing greater throughput, increased automation capabilities and reagent savings. To improve the relevancy of such studies, 3-dimensional (3D) cell culture has been attempted in microfluidic devices. 3D cell culture is known to better mimic and recreate the environment that cells in the body experience as compared to conventional 2-dimensional cell culture. However, incorporating 3D cell culture into conventional channel based microfluidic devices have proven to be challenging. Hydrogels which provide the 3D environment in microfluidic devices are prone to clog up microfluidic channels or break up due to excess pressure, thereby necessitating greater controls and complication of conventional channel based microfluidic devices. Electro-wetting on dielectric (EWOD) digital microfluidic (DMF) is another alternative microfluidic platform that is proposed to counter these problems. Since EWOD DMF flow occurs through discrete droplets without requiring channels, delicate gels can be handled without compromising the microfluidic device integrity or gel integrity. In addition, EWOD DMF has already been shown to be an efficient platform for multiplexing and liquid delivery. This study investigates the feasibility of EWOD DMF for 3D cell culture. To do this, an alginate hydrogel is employed and alginate gelation on EWOD DMF is investigated. Various designs to allow for reliable hydrogel formation are examined and an optimal design is developed. Using this design, an EWOD DMF device is developed which is capable of forming cell seeded alginate hydrogels, diluting and delivering a chemical species at different concentrations to the hydrogels and examining the effect of delivered chemicals on the 3D cultured cells. Thus, this proof of concept device demonstrates how EWOD DMF can be used for integrated 3D cell culture and chemical screening.


Aerospace Engineering | Engineering | Mechanical Engineering


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington