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Annu Rev Biomed Eng. 2006;8:425-54.

Electrical forces for microscale cell manipulation.

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Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Electrical forces for manipulating cells at the microscale include electrophoresis and dielectrophoresis. Electrophoretic forces arise from the interaction of a cell's charge and an electric field, whereas dielectrophoresis arises from a cell's polarizability. Both forces can be used to create microsystems that separate cell mixtures into its component cell types or act as electrical "handles" to transport cells or place them in specific locations. This review explores the use of these two forces for microscale cell manipulation. We first examine the forces and electrodes used to create them, then address potential impacts on cell health, followed by examples of devices for both separating cells and handling them.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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