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Electrophoresis. 2015 Jan;36(2):277-83. doi: 10.1002/elps.201400236. Epub 2014 Nov 14.

3D Insulator-based dielectrophoresis using DC-biased, AC electric fields for selective bacterial trapping.

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VT MEMS Laboratory, Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA.


Insulator-based dielectrophoresis (iDEP) is a well-known technique that harnesses electric fields for separating, moving, and trapping biological particle samples. Recent work has shown that utilizing DC-biased AC electric fields can enhance the performance of iDEP devices. In this study, an iDEP device with 3D varying insulating structures analyzed in combination with DC biased AC fields is presented for the first time. Using our unique reactive ion etch lag, the mold for the 3D microfluidic chip is created with a photolithographic mask. The 3D iDEP devices, whose largest dimensions are 1 cm long, 0.18 cm wide, and 90 μm deep are then rapidly fabricated by curing a PDMS polymer in the glass mold. The 3D nature of the insulating microstructures allows for high trapping efficiency at potentials as low as 200 Vpp. In this work, separation of Escherichia coli from 1 μm beads and selective trapping of live Staphylococcus aureus cells from dead S. aureus cells is demonstrated. This is the first reported use of DC-biased AC fields to selectively trap bacteria in 3D iDEP microfluidic device and to efficiently separate particles where selectivity of DC iDEP is limited.


3D Fabrication; Cell trapping; Dielectrophoresis; Escherichia coli; Microfluidics; Staphylococcus aureus

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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