Adaptive Droplet Routing in Digital Microfluidic Biochips Using Deep Reinforcement Learning

Jul 12, 2020

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We present and investigate a novel application domain for deep reinforcement learning (RL): droplet routing on digital microfluidic biochips (DMFBs). A DMFB, composed of a two-dimensional electrode array, manipulates discrete fluid droplets to automatically execute biochemical protocols such as high-throughput DNA sequencing and point-of-care clinical diagnosis. However, a major concern associated with the use of DMFBs is that electrodes in a biochip can degrade over time. Droplet-transportation operations associated with the degraded electrodes can fail, thereby compromising the integrity of the bioassay outcome. While it is not feasible to detect the degradation of an electrode by simply examining its appearance, we show that casting droplet transportation as an RL problem enables the training of deep network policies to capture the underlying health conditions of electrodes and to provide reliable fluidic operations. We propose a new RL-based droplet-routing flow that can be used for various sizes of DMFBs, and demonstrate reliable execution of an epigenetic bioassay with the RL droplet router on a fabricated DMFB. To facilitate further research, we also present a simulation environment based on the OpenAI Gym Interface for RL-guided droplet-routing problems on DMFBs.

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About ICML 2020

The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.

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