Biomedical Microdevices

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 833-840

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

A primary current distribution model of a novel micro-electroporation channel configuration

  • Gregory D. TroszakAffiliated withDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, University of California – Berkeley Email author 
  • , Boris RubinskyAffiliated withDepartment of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, University of California – Berkeley


Traditional macro and micro-electroporation devices utilize facing electrodes, which generate electric fields inversely proportional to their separation distance. Although the separation distances in micro-electroporation devices are significantly smaller than those in macro-electroporation devices, they are limited by cell size. Because of this, significant potential differences are required to induce electroporation. These potential differences are often large enough to cause water electrolysis, resulting in electrode depletion and bubble formation, both of which adversely affect the electroporation process. Here, we present a theoretical study of a novel micro-electroporation channel composed of an electrolyte flowing over a series of adjacent electrodes separated by infinitesimally small insulators. Application of a small, non-electrolysis inducing potential difference between the adjacent electrodes results in radially-varying electric fields that emanate from these insulators, causing cells flowing through the channel to experience a pulsed electric field. This eliminates the need for a pulse generator, making a minimal power source (such as a battery) the only electrical equipment that is needed. A non-dimensional primary current distribution model of the novel micro-electroporation channel shows that decreasing the channel height results in an exponential increase in the electric field magnitude, and that cells experience exponentially greater electric field magnitudes the closer they are to the channel walls. Finally, dimensional primary current distribution models of two potential applications, water sterilization and cell transfection, demonstrate the practical feasibility of the novel micro-electroporation channel.


Electroporation Micro-electroporation Primary current distribution model Sterilization Transfection