Liposomes and giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) in particular are excellent compartments for constructing artificial cells. Traditionally, their use requires bench-top vesicle growth, followed by experimentation under a microscope. Such steps are time-consuming and can lead to loss of vesicles when they are transferred to an observation chamber. To overcome these issues, we present an integrated microfluidic chip which combines GUV formation, trapping, and multiple separate experiments in the same device. First, we optimized the buffer conditions to maximize both the yield and the subsequent trapping of the vesicles in micro-posts. Captured GUVs were monodisperse with specific size of 18 ± 4 µm in diameter. Next, we introduce a two-layer design with integrated valves which allows fast solution exchange in less than 20 s and on separate sub-populations of the trapped vesicles. We demonstrate that multiple experiments can be performed in a single chip with both membrane transport and permeabilization assays. In conclusion, we have developed a versatile all-in-one microfluidic chip with capabilities to produce and perform multiple experiments on a single batch of vesicles using low sample volumes. We expect this device will be highly advantageous for bottom-up synthetic biology where rapid encapsulation and visualization is required for enzymatic reactions.
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