Particle/cell separation using sheath-free deterministic lateral displacement arrays with inertially focused single straight input†
This paper proposes microfluidic particle separation by sheath-free deterministic lateral displacement (DLD) with inertial focusing in a single straight input channel. Unlike conventional DLD devices for size-based particle separation, in which sheath streams are used to focus the particles before the solution containing them reaches the DLD arrays, the proposed method uses inertial focusing to align the particles along the middle or the sidewalls of the straight rectangular input channel. The two-stage model of inertial focusing is applied to reduce the length of the side-focusing channel. The proposed method is demonstrated by using it to separate fluorescent polymer particles of diameters 13 and 7 μm, in the process of which the effect of the particle focusing regime on the separation performance is also investigated. Through middle focusing, the method is further used to separate MCF-7 cells (a model of circulating tumor cells (CTCs)) and blood cells, with ∼99.0% capture efficiency achieved.