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Gravitation-driven stress-reduced cell handling

: Boettcher, M.; Jaeger, M.; Kirschbaum, M.; Mueller, T.; Schnelle, T.; Duschl, C.


Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry 390 (2008), No.3, pp.857-863
ISSN: 1618-2642 (Print)
ISSN: 1618-2650 (Online)
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IBMT ()

We present a simple lab-on-chip device for handling small samples of delicate cells, e.g. stem cells. It uses a combination of sedimentation and dielectrophoresis. The transport of cells is driven by gravitation. Dielectrophoresis uses radio-frequency electric fields for generating particle-selective forces dependent on size and polarisability. Electrodes along the channels hold particles and/or cells in a defined position and deflect them towards different outlets. The absence of external pumping and the integration of injection and sampling ports allow the processing of tiny sample volumes. Various functions are demonstrated, such as contact-free cell trapping and cell/particle sorting. Pairs of human cells and antibody-coated beads, as they are formed for T cell activation, are separated from unbound beads. The cells experience only low stress levels compared with the stress levels in dielectrophoresis systems, where transport depends on external pumping. Our device is a versatile yet simple tool that finds applications in cellular biotechnology, in particular when an economic solution is required.