Microfluidics and Nanofluidics

, Volume 14, Issue 3–4, pp 527–539 | Cite as

Improved concentration and separation of particles in a 3D dielectrophoretic chip integrating focusing, aligning and trapping

  • Ming Li
  • Shunbo Li
  • Wenbin Cao
  • Weihua Li
  • Weijia Wen
  • Gursel Alici
Research Paper


This article presents a dielectrophoresis (DEP)-based microfluidic device with the three-dimensional (3D) microelectrode configuration for concentrating and separating particles in a continuous throughflow. The 3D electrode structure, where microelectrode array are patterned on both the top and bottom surfaces of the microchannel, is composed of three units: focusing, aligning and trapping. As particles flowing through the microfluidic channel, they are firstly focused and aligned by the funnel-shaped and parallel electrode array, respectively, before being captured at the trapping unit due to negative DEP force. For a mixture of two particle populations of different sizes or dielectric properties, with a careful selection of suspending medium and applied field, the population exhibits stronger negative DEP manipulated by the microelectrode array and, therefore, separated from the other population which is easily carried away toward the outlet due to hydrodynamic force. The functionality of the proposed microdevice was verified by concentrating different-sized polystyrene (PS) microparticles and yeast cells dynamically flowing in the microchannel. Moreover, separation based on size and dielectric properties was achieved by sorting PS microparticles, and isolating 5 μm PS particles from yeast cells, respectively. The performance of the proposed micro-concentrator and separator was also studied, including the threshold voltage at which particles begin to be trapped, variation of cell-trapping efficiency with respect to the applied voltage and flow rate, and the efficiency of separation experiments. The proposed microdevice has various advantages, including multi-functionality, improved manipulation efficiency and throughput, easy fabrication and operation, etc., which shows a great potential for biological, chemical and medical applications.


3D electrodes Dielectrophoresis Particle concentration Particle separation Microfluidics 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Mechanical, Materials and Mechatronic EngineeringUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.Department of PhysicsThe Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyKowloonHong Kong
  3. 3.Nano Science and Technology Program and KAUST-HKUST Micro/Nanofluidic Joint LaboratoryThe Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyKowloonHong Kong

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