Chapter 3: Electrokinetics and Rare-Cell Detection
Published:24 Oct 2014
Lab-on-a-chip devices perform functions which are not feasible or difficult to achieve with macroscale devices. Importantly, isolating and enriching rare cells is key in health and environmental applications, such as detecting circulating tumor cells from body fluid biopsies, or pathogens from water. Within a microdevice, the dominant mechanical force on a suspended particle is the drag force as it flows through the fluid. Electrokinetic forces such as dielectrophoresis - the motion of a particle due to its polarization in the presence of a non-uniform electric field - may also be applied to manipulate particles. For instance, separation of particles can be achieved using a combination of drag and dielectrophoretic forces to precisely manipulate a particle. Understanding the interaction of electrokinetic forces, particles, and fluid flow is critical for engineering novel microsystems used for cell sorting. Determining this interaction is even more complicated when dealing with bioparticles, especially cells, due to their intrinsic complex biological properties which influence their electrical and mechanical behaviors. In order to design novel and more practical microdevices for medical, biological, and chemical applications, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the mechanics of particle-fluid interaction and the dynamics of particle movement. This chapter will describe the role of electrokinetic techniques in rare cell detection and the behavior of electrokinetic microsystems.