Enhanced cell sorting and manipulation with combined optical tweezer and microfluidic chip technologies
Sorting (or isolation) and manipulation of rare cells with high recovery rate and purity are of critical importance to a wide range of physiological applications. In the current paper, we report on a generic single cell manipulation tool that integrates optical tweezers and microfluidic chip technologies for handling small cell population sorting with high accuracy. The laminar flow nature of microfluidics enables the targeted cells to be focused on a desired area for cell isolation. To recognize the target cells, we develop an image processing methodology with a recognition capability of multiple features, e.g., cell size and fluorescence label. The target cells can be moved precisely by optical tweezers to the desired destination in a noninvasive manner. The unique advantages of this sorter are its high recovery rate and purity in small cell population sorting. The design is based on dynamic fluid and dynamic light pattern, in which single as well as multiple laser traps are employed for cell transportation, and a recognition capability of multiple cell features. Experiments of sorting yeast cells and human embryonic stem cells are performed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed cell sorting approach.