Trapping, manipulation, and crystallization of live cells using magnetofluidic tweezers
Live mammalian cells are captured and manipulated in magnetofluidic traps created in a suspension of biocompatible, magnetic nanoparticles by a coaxial magnetic/non-magnetic “micropen”. Upon activation by an external electromagnet, the pen creates microscale gradients of magnetic field and nanoparticle concentration that translate into directional and confining forces acting on the cells. Both individual cells and cell collections can be trapped by this method, allowing, for instance, for the formation of regularly shaped cell assemblies. The method does not entail any local heating artifacts and does not require magnetic tagging of the cells.