A high-throughput acoustic cell sorter†
Acoustic-based fluorescence activated cell sorters (FACS) have drawn increased attention in recent years due to their versatility, high biocompatibility, high controllability, and simple design. However, the sorting throughput for existing acoustic cell sorters is far from optimum for practical applications. Here we report a high-throughput cell sorting method based on standing surface acoustic waves (SSAWs). We utilized a pair of focused interdigital transducers (FIDTs) to generate SSAW with high resolution and high energy efficiency. As a result, the sorting throughput is improved significantly from conventional acoustic-based cell sorting methods. We demonstrated the successful sorting of 10 μm polystyrene particles with a minimum actuation time of 72 μs, which translates to a potential sorting rate of more than 13 800 events per second. Without using a cell-detection unit, we were able to demonstrate an actual sorting throughput of 3300 events per second. Our sorting method can be conveniently integrated with upstream detection units, and it represents an important development towards a functional acoustic-based FACS system.