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Lab Chip. 2013 Feb 7;13(3):336-9. doi: 10.1039/c2lc40837f.

Ultra-localized single cell electroporation using silicon nanowires.

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Division of Molecular Biotechnology, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden.


Analysis of cell-to-cell variation can further the understanding of intracellular processes and the role of individual cell function within a larger cell population. The ability to precisely lyse single cells can be used to release cellular components to resolve cellular heterogeneity that might be obscured when whole populations are examined. We report a method to position and lyse individual cells on silicon nanowire and nanoribbon biological field effect transistors. In this study, HT-29 cancer cells were positioned on top of transistors by manipulating magnetic beads using external magnetic fields. Ultra-rapid cell lysis was subsequently performed by applying 600-900 mV(pp) at 10 MHz for as little as 2 ms across the transistor channel and the bulk substrate. We show that the fringing electric field at the device surface disrupts the cell membrane, leading to lysis from irreversible electroporation. This methodology allows rapid and simple single cell lysis and analysis with potential applications in medical diagnostics, proteome analysis and developmental biology studies.

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