Bioconjugates are important next-generation drugs and imaging agents. Assembly of these increasingly complex constructs requires precise control over processing conditions, which is a challenge for conventional manual synthesis. This inadequacy has motivated the pursuit of new approaches for efficient, controlled modification of high-molecular-weight biologics such as proteins, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids. We report a novel, hands-free, semiautomated platform for synthetic manipulation of biomolecules using acoustically responsive microparticles as three-dimensional reaction substrates. The microfluidic reactor incorporates a longitudinal acoustic trap that controls the chemical reactions within a localized acoustic field. Forces generated by this field immobilize the microscale substrates against the continuous flow of participating chemical reagents. Thus, the motion of substrates and reactants is decoupled, enabling exquisite control over multistep reaction conditions and providing high-yield, high-purity products with minimal user input. We demonstrate these capabilities by conjugating clinically relevant antibodies with a small molecule. The on-bead synthesis comprises capture of the antibody, coupling of a fluorescent tag, product purification, and product release. Successful capture and modification of a fluorescently labeled antibody are confirmed via fold increases of 49 and 11 in the green (antibody)-and red (small-molecule dye)-channel median intensities determined using flow cytometry. Antibody conjugates assembled on acoustically responsive, ultrasound-confined microparticles exhibit similar quality and quantity to those prepared manually by a skilled technician.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6108-6116
Number of pages9
JournalACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 9 2020


  • acoustofluidics
  • antibody conjugates
  • automatic synthesis
  • microfluidics
  • solid-state chemistry
  • synthesis


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