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Biomicrofluidics. 2011 Sep;5(3):34101-3410110. doi: 10.1063/1.3609263. Epub 2011 Jul 18.

A handheld preconcentrator for the rapid collection of cancerous cells using dielectrophoresis generated by circular microelectrodes in stepping electric fields.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering and Advanced Institute of Manufacturing for High-tech Innovations, National Chung Cheng University, Chia Yi 62102, Taiwan.


The ability to concentrate biological cells, such as circulating tumor cells, circulating fetal cells, and stem cells, is an important issue in medical diagnostics and characterization. The present study develops a handheld device capable of effectively preconcentrating cancerous cells. Circular microelectrodes were designed to generate a stepping electric field by switching the electric field to an adjacent electrode pair by relays. Cancerous cells with a positive dielectrophoretic response are guided toward the center of the circular microelectrodes due to the region of high electric field between the adjacent electrodes being gradually decreased in the direction of the stepping electric field. Numerical simulations of the electric fields were performed to demonstrate the concept of the proposed design. The preconcentration of HeLa cells, which are a human cervical carcinoma cell line, was achieved in 160 s with an efficiency of around 76%, with an applied peak-to-peak voltage of 16 V at a frequency of 1 MHz.

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