On-chip cell sorting by high-speed local-flow control using dual membrane pumps†
Although researchers have proposed various methods of on-chip cell sorting, high-throughput sorting of large cells remains hampered by the difficulty of controlling high-speed flow over a wide sorting area. To overcome this problem, we proposed high-speed local-flow control using dual membrane pumps driven by piezoelectric actuators placed on the outside of a microfluidic chip in this paper. We evaluated the controllability of shifting the flow profile by the local-flow. The results indicated that we could sort large cells up to approximately 150 μm in size with an equivalent throughput of 31 kHz. Because our method can control the flow profiles, it is applicable not only to large cells but also to small cells. The cell-sorting efficacy of the proposed method was experimentally evaluated on Euglena gracilis NIES-48 (E. gracilis) cells as large target cells and GCIY-EGFP (GCIY) cells derived from a gastric cancer cell line as small target cells. In E. gracilis cells sorting, the throughput is 23 kHz with a 92.8% success rate, 95.8% purity, and 90.8% cell viability. In GCIY sorting, the throughput is 11 kHz with a 97.8% success rate, 98.9% purity, and 90.7% cell viability. These results confirm that the proposed method sorts differently sized cells with high throughput and hence, overcomes the throughput–size trade-off that exists in conventional on-chip cell sorters.