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Anal Chem. 1998 May 1;70(9):1909-15.

Dielectrophoretic sorting of particles and cells in a microsystem.

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  • 1Institut für Biologie-Membranphysiologie, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, FRG.


There are highly sensitive analytical techniques for probing cellular and molecular events in very small volumes. The development of microtools for effective sample handling and separation in such volumes remains a challenge. Most devices developed so far use electrophoretic and chromatographic separation methods. We show that forces generated by ac fields under conditions of negative dielectrophoresis (DEP) can also be used. Miniaturized electrode arrays are housed in a microchannel and driven with high-frequency ac. A laminar liquid flow carries particles past the electrodes. Modification of the ac drive changes the particle trajectories. We have handled latex particles of micrometer size and living mammalian cells in a device which consists of the following four elements: a planar funnel which concentrates particles from a 1-mm-wide stream to a beam of about 50-micron width, an aligner which narrows the beam further and acts to break up particle aggregates, a field cage which can be used to trap particles, and a switch which can direct particles into one of two output channels. The electrodes are made from platinum/titanium and indium tin oxide (ITO) on glass substrates. Particle concentration and switching could be achieved for linear flow velocities up to about 10 mm s-1. The combination of this new method with high-performance optical detection offers prospects for miniaturized flow cytometry.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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