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Lab Chip. 2007 Jul;7(7):890-7. Epub 2007 Apr 26.

Continuous hydrophoretic separation and sizing of microparticles using slanted obstacles in a microchannel.

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  • 1Department of BioSystems, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), 373-1 Guseong-dong, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 305-701, Republic of Korea.


We report a microfluidic separation and sizing method of microparticles with hydrophoresis--the movement of suspended particles under the influence of a microstructure-induced pressure field. By exploiting slanted obstacles in a microchannel, we can generate a lateral pressure gradient so that microparticles can be deflected and arranged along the lateral flows induced by the gradient. Using such movements of particles, we completely separated polystyrene microbeads with 9 and 12 microm diameters. Also, we discriminated polystyrene microbeads with diameter differences of approximately 7.3%. Additionally, we measured the diameter of 10.4 microm beads with high coefficient of variation and compared the result with a conventional laser diffraction method. The slanted obstacle as a microfluidic control element in a microchannel is analogous to the electric, magnetic, optical, or acoustic counterparts in that their function is to generate a field gradient. Since our method is based on intrinsic pressure fields, we could eliminate the need for external potential fields to induce the movement of particles. Therefore, our hydrophoretic method will offer a new opportunity for power-free and biocompatible particle control within integrated microfluidic devices.

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