Simultaneous concentration and separation of microorganisms: insulator-based dielectrophoretic approach
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Microanalytical methods offer attractive characteristics for rapid microbial detection and concentration. There is a growing interest in the development of microscale separation techniques. Dielectrophoresis (DEP), a nondestructive electrokinetic transport mechanism, is a technique with great potential for microbe manipulation, since it can achieve concentration and separation in a single step. DEP is the movement of particles due to polarization effects in nonuniform electric fields. The majority of the work on dielectrophoretic manipulation of microbes has employed alternating current fields in arrays of microelectrodes, an approach with some disadvantages. An alternative is to employ insulator-based DEP (iDEP), a dielectrophoretic mode where nonuniform fields are produced by employing arrays of insulating structures. This study presents the concentration and fractionation of a mixture of bacteria and yeast cells employing direct current-iDEP in a microchannel containing an array of cylindrical insulating structures. Negative dielectrophoretic trapping of both types of microorganisms was demonstrated, where yeast cells exhibited a stronger response, opening the possibility for dielectrophoretic differentiation. Simultaneous concentration and fractionation of a mixture of both types of cells was carried out analogous to a chromatographic separation, where a dielectropherogram was obtained in less than 2 min by applying an electric field gradient and achieving concentration factors in the order of 50 and 37 times the inlet concentration for Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells, respectively. Encouraging results were also obtained employing a sample of water taken from a pond. The findings demonstrated the great potential of iDEP as a rapid and effective technique for intact microorganism concentration and separation.
KeywordsDielectrophoresis Electrokinetic Electroosmotic flow Microfluidics Microorganisms
The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support provided by Award For Women in Science L’ÓREAL-UNESCO-AMC Mexico 2008 and grant CONACYT-CB-2006-53603. The authors are grateful for the financial support provided by Cátedra de Investigación (CAT142) of Tecnológico de Monterrey.
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