Slanted, asymmetric microfluidic lattices as size-selective sieves for continuous particle/cell sorting
Hydrodynamic microfluidic platforms have been proven to be useful and versatile for precisely sorting particles/cells based on their physicochemical properties. In this study, we demonstrate that a simple lattice-shaped microfluidic pattern can work as a virtual sieve for size-dependent continuous particle sorting. The lattice is composed of two types of microchannels (“main channels” and “separation channels”). These channels cross each other in a perpendicular fashion, and are slanted against the macroscopic flow direction. The difference in the densities of these channels generates an asymmetric flow distribution at each intersection. Smaller particles flow along the streamline, whereas larger particles are filtered and gradually separated from the stream, resulting in continuous particle sorting. We successfully sorted microparticles based on size with high accuracy, and clearly showed that geometric parameters, including the channel density and the slant angle, critically affect the sorting behaviors of particles. Leukocyte sorting and monocyte purification directly from diluted blood samples have been demonstrated as biomedical applications. The presented system for particle/cell sorting would become a simple but versatile unit operation in microfluidic apparatus for chemical/biological experiments and manipulations.