A microfluidic device and operation to handle liquid plugs for biochemical analyses were developed for efficient handling of plugs of many solutions. A major part of the device was a T-junction consisting of a main flow channel and a handling flow channel. Unit operations including attachment of plugs, division of a plug, sorting of plugs, and formation of plugs of various lengths enabled controlled sequential reactions in a microflow channel. Rapid mixing could easily be achieved by moving a plug formed by merging two plugs back and forth. The device could be used for efficient characterization of performance in bio/chemical sensing. In experiments using L-glutamate oxidase, plugs containing an enzyme or a substrate were formed, mixed sequentially, and the intensity of fluorescence from plugs of different concentrations of L-glutamate or pHs could be measured simultaneously. Cross-contamination of plugs by neighboring plugs poses a problem in using the same flow channel repeatedly. However, the influence could be minimized by using a cleansing plug placed between them in a sufficiently hydrophobic flow channel and by processing the plugs at a low velocity. The device can be a critical component for microprocessing in various bio/chemical analyses.
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