Precise label-free leukocyte subpopulation separation using hybrid acoustic-optical chip†
Leukocyte subpopulations contain crucial physiological information; hence, precise and specific leukocyte separation is very important for leukemia diagnosis and analysis. However, conventional centrifugation and immunofluorescence-based separation methods are inaccurate and inconvenient due to the overlapping cell size and density or complex marking processes. Herein, we report a new label-free technology for precise leukocyte subpopulation separation by synergy of acoustic and optical technologies. Standing surface acoustic wave (SSAW) solved the problem of gentle and precise focusing of cells in optical systems. In addition, SSAW was used for the separation of granulocytes, which have evident size distinction from other components. In case of lymphocytes and monocytes, which have overlap in size/density, optical force could distinguish them accurately based on the RI difference, with the convenience of acoustic pre-focusing. In this experiment, separation of three types of leukocyte subtypes with considerable throughput and purity was conducted, through which we obtained 99% pure lymphocytes, 98% pure monocytes, and 95% pure granulocytes. Experimental results prove that the device has robust ability in separating leukocyte phenotypes and have the advantages of being non-invasive, label-free and precise. In the future, this convenient hybrid method will be a potential powerful tool for auxiliary clinical diagnosis and analysis.