Compartmentalized, All-Aqueous Flow-Through-Coordinated Reaction Systems

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

50 Scopus Citations
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  • Ganhua Xie
  • Joe Forth
  • Paul D. Ashby
  • Brett A. Helms
  • Thomas P. Russell


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2678-2690
Journal / PublicationChem
Issue number10
Online published22 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


A hallmark of biological systems is the ability to compartmentalize and coordinate system functions, which has been a challenge even in the most sophisticated synthetic mimics. Here, we demonstrate a strategy to fabricate compartmentalized systems in 3D water-in-water constructs stabilized by an elastic polyanion-polycation coacervate membrane. Using a 3D printer, the length, shape, and diameter of all-aqueous tubules are broadly controlled. We demonstrate directional diffusion of ionic species across the membrane dictated by the preferential affinity of the polyelectrolyte in the oppositely charged phase. In conjunction with microfluidic techniques, continuous selective diffusion and compartmentalized reactions are demonstrated in such all-aqueous systems. A layer-by-layer strategy is also used to tune the membrane’s mechanical properties and to functionalize them. Such a new platform is demonstrated for developing and manipulating continuous separations media or compartmentalized reactive systems that function independently or can be coupled with selective diffusion across the membrane.

Research Area(s)

  • 3D printing, all-aqueous two-phase system, biology mimics, compartmentalization, microfluidic system, phase separation, SDG6: Clean water and sanitation, SDG9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure, structured liquid, synthetic systems, water-water interface

Citation Format(s)

Compartmentalized, All-Aqueous Flow-Through-Coordinated Reaction Systems. / Xie, Ganhua; Forth, Joe; Chai, Yu et al.
In: Chem, Vol. 5, No. 10, 10.10.2019, p. 2678-2690.

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review