A Modular Platform for Cell Characterization, Handling, and Sorting by Dielectrophoresis

S. Burgarella[1], B. Dell’Anna[2], V. Perna[1], G. Zarola[2], and S. Merlo[2]

[1]STMicroelectronics, Agrate Brianza, MI, Italy
[2]Dipartimento di Elettronica, Università degli Studi di Pavia, Pavia, Italy

Dielectrophoresis (DEP) is a method for cell manipulation without physical contact in lab-on-chip devices, since it exploits the dielectric properties of cells suspended in a microfluidic sample, under the action of locally generated high-gradient electric fields. The DEP platform that has been developed offers an integrated solution for customizable applications. Several functional units, organized in a first characterization module and in a series of manipulation stages rearrangeable on a single chip, have been realized using fabrication techniques from Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems (MEMS) technology. Numerical modelling has been performed using COMSOL Multiphysics to simulate the electric field distribution and to quantify the DEP forces acting at the cell microscale. Parametrical modelling has been performed to optimize the geometry of each module, whose functioning has been demonstrated with different cells types.