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Issue 2, 2006
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DC-dielectrophoretic separation of microparticles using an oil droplet obstacle

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A new dielectrophoretic particle separation method is demonstrated and examined in the following experimental study. Current electrodeless dielectrophoretic (DEP) separation techniques utilize insulating solid obstacles in a DC or low-frequency AC field, while this novel method employs an oil droplet acting as an insulating hurdle between two electrodes. When particles move in a non-uniform DC field locally formed by the droplet, they are exposed to a negative DEP force linearly dependent on their volume, which allows the particle separation by size. Since the size of the droplet can be dynamically changed, the electric field gradient, and hence DEP force, becomes easily controllable and adjustable to various separation parameters. By adjusting the droplet size, particles of three different diameter sizes, 1 µm, 5.7 µm and 15.7 µm, were successfully separated in a PDMS microfluidic chip, under applied field strength in the range from 80 V cm−1 to 240 V cm−1. A very effective separation was realized at the low field strength, since the electric field gradient was proved to be a more significant parameter for particle discrimination than the applied voltage. By utilizing low strength fields and adaptable field gradient, this method can also be applied to the separation of biological samples that are generally very sensitive to high electric potential.

Graphical abstract: DC-dielectrophoretic separation of microparticles using an oil droplet obstacle

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Publication details

The article was received on 19 Sep 2005, accepted on 29 Nov 2005 and first published on 20 Dec 2005

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B513183A
Citation: Lab Chip, 2006,6, 274-279
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    DC-dielectrophoretic separation of microparticles using an oil droplet obstacle

    I. Barbulovic-Nad, X. Xuan, J. S. H. Lee and D. Li, Lab Chip, 2006, 6, 274
    DOI: 10.1039/B513183A

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