Three-dimensional lab-on-a-foil device for dielectrophoretic separation of cancer cells


A simple, low-cost, three-dimensional (3D) lab-on-a-foil microfluidic device for dielectrophoretic separation of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) is designed and constructed. Disposable thin films are cut by xurography and microelectrode array are made with rapid inkjet printing. The multilayer device design allows the studying of spatial movements of CTCs and red blood cells (RBCs) under dielectrophoresis (DEP). A numerical simulation was performed to find the optimum driving frequency of RBCs and the crossover frequency for CTCs. At the optimum frequency, RBCs were lifted 120 µm in z-axis direction by DEP force, and CTCs were not affected due to negligible DEP force. By utilizing the displacement difference, the separation of CTCs (modeled with A549 lung carcinoma cells) from RBCs in z-axis direction was achieved. With the nonuniform electric field at optimized driving frequency, the RBCs were trapped in the cavities above the microchannel, whereas the A549 cells were separated with a high capture rate of 86.3% ± 0.2%. The device opens not only the possibility for 3D high-throughput cell separation but also for future developments in 3D cell manipulation through rapid and low-cost fabrication.

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