PLoS One 9(1) , e86341 ( 2014)
We report an all-in-one platform – ScanDrop – for the rapid and specific capture, detection, and identification of bacteria in drinking water. The ScanDrop platform integrates droplet microfluidics, a portable imaging system, and cloud-based control software and data storage. The cloud-based control software and data storage enables robotic image acquisition, remote image processing, and rapid data sharing. These features form a “cloud” network for water quality monitoring. We have demonstrated the capability of ScanDrop to perform water quality monitoring via the detection of an indicator coliform bacterium, Escherichia coli, in drinking water contaminated with feces. Magnetic beads conjugated with antibodies to E. coli antigen were used to selectively capture and isolate specific bacteria from water samples. The bead-captured bacteria were co-encapsulated in pico-liter droplets with fluorescently-labeled anti-E. coli antibodies, and imaged with an automated custom designed fluorescence microscope. The entire water quality diagnostic process required 8 hours from sample collection to online-accessible results compared with 2-4 days for other currently available standard detection methods.