Microfluidic CODES: a scalable multiplexed electronic sensor for orthogonal detection of particles in microfluidic channels†
Numerous biophysical and biochemical assays rely on spatial manipulation of particles/cells as they are processed on lab-on-a-chip devices. Analysis of spatially distributed particles on these devices typically requires microscopy negating the cost and size advantages of microfluidic assays. In this paper, we introduce a scalable electronic sensor technology, called microfluidic CODES, that utilizes resistive pulse sensing to orthogonally detect particles in multiple microfluidic channels from a single electrical output. Combining the techniques from telecommunications and microfluidics, we route three coplanar electrodes on a glass substrate to create multiple Coulter counters producing distinct orthogonal digital codes when they detect particles. We specifically design a digital code set using the mathematical principles of Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) telecommunication networks and can decode signals from different microfluidic channels with >90% accuracy through computation even if these signals overlap. As a proof of principle, we use this technology to detect human ovarian cancer cells in four different microfluidic channels fabricated using soft lithography. Microfluidic CODES offers a simple, all-electronic interface that is well suited to create integrated, low-cost lab-on-a-chip devices for cell- or particle-based assays in resource-limited settings.