Electrical measurement of red blood cell deformability on a microfluidic device†
This paper describes a microfluidic system and a technique for electrically measuring the deformability of red blood cells (RBCs). RBCs are deformed when they flow through a small capillary (microfluidic channel). The microfluidic device consists of two stages of microchannels as two measurement units for measuring cell size/volume and cell deformability. A low frequency voltage signal is established across the microfluidic channel, and electrical current signal is sampled continuously when RBCs pass through the measurement areas. Mechanical opacity is defined to mitigate the coupled effect of cell size/volume and deformability. The system performed tests on controlled, glutaraldehyde-treated, and heated RBCs using a number of driving pressures. The experimental results proved the capability of the system for distinguishing different RBC populations based on their deformability with a throughput of ∼10 cells s−1.