Acoustic separation of living and dead cells using high density medium†
The acoustic radiation force, originating from ultrasonic standing waves and utilized in numerous cell oriented acoustofluidic applications, is dependent on the acoustic contrast factor which describes the relationship between the acousto-mechanical properties of a particle and its surrounding medium. The acousto-mechanical properties of a cell population are known to be heterogeneously distributed but are often assumed to be constant over time. In this paper, we use microchannel acoustophoresis to show that the cell state within a cell population, in our case living and dead cells, influences the mechanical phenotype. By investigating the trapping location of viable and dead K562, MCF-7 and A498 cells as a function of the suspension medium density, we observed that beyond a specific medium density the viable cells were driven to the pressure anti-node while the dead cells were retained in the pressure node. Using this information, we were able to calculate the effective acoustic impedance of viable K562 and MCF-7 cells. The spatial separation between viable and dead cells along the channel width demonstrates a novel acoustophoresis approach for binary separation of viable and dead cells in a cell-size independent and robust manner.