Laser-based directed release of array elements for efficient collection into targeted microwells
A cell separation strategy capable of the systematic isolation and collection of moderate to large numbers (25–400) of single cells into a targeted microwell is demonstrated. An array of microfabricated, releasable, transparent micron-scale pedestals termed pallets and an array of microwells in poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) were mated to enable selective release and retrieval of individual cells. Cells cultured on a pallet array mounted on a custom designed stage permitted the array to be positioned independently of the microwell locations. Individual pallets containing cells were detached in a targeted fashion using a pulsed Nd:YAG laser. The location of the laser focal point was optimized to transfer individual pallets to designated microwells. In a large-scale sort (n = 401), the accuracy, defined as placing a pallet in the intended well, was 94% and the collection efficiency was 100%. Multiple pallets were observed in only 4% of the targeted wells. In cell sorting experiments, the technique provided a yield and purity of target cells identified by their fluorescence signature of 91% and 93%, respectively. Cell viability based on single-cell cloning efficiency at 72 h post collection was 77%.