Microfluidic fluorescence-activated cell sorting (μFACS) chip with integrated piezoelectric actuators for low-cost mammalian cell enrichment

  • Zhen Cheng
  • Xudong Wu
  • Jing Cheng
  • Peng LiuEmail author
Research Paper


A low-cost, microfluidic fluorescence-activated cell sorting (μFACS) microchip integrated with two piezoelectric lead–zirconate–titanate actuators was demonstrated for automated, high-performance mammalian cell analysis and enrichment. In this PDMS–glass device, cells were hydrodynamically focused into a single file line in the lateral direction by two sheath flows, and then interrogated with a forward scattering and confocal fluorescent detection system. The selected cells were displaced transversely into a collection channel by two piezoelectric actuators that worked in a pull–push relay manner with a minimal switching time of ~0.8 ms. High detection throughput (~2500 cells/s), high sorting rate (~1250 cells/s), and high sorting efficiency (~98%) were successfully achieved on the μFACS system. Six cell mixture samples containing 22.87% of GFP-expressing HeLa cells were consecutively analyzed and sorted on the chip, revealing a stable sorting efficiency of 97.7 ± 0.93%. In addition, cell mixtures containing 37.65 and 3.36% GFP HeLa cells were effectively enriched up to 83.82 and 78.51%, respectively, on the microchip, and an enrichment factor of 105 for the low-purity (3.36%) sample was successfully obtained. This fully enclosed, disposable microfluidic chip provides an automated platform for low-cost fluorescence-based cell detection and enrichment, and is attractive to applications where cross-contamination between runs and aerosol hazard are the primary concerns.


Fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) Microfluidics Microfabrication Cell sorting Piezoelectric actuation 



We thank Dong Wang and Lei Wang at the National Engineering Research Center for Beijing Biochip Technology for their valuable advices on system development. We also thank the Cell Facility in the Tsinghua Center of Biomedical Analysis for the assistance on the BD FACSCalibur™ instrument. Microchip fabrication was conducted at the Microfabrication Laboratory, the National Engineering Research Center for Beijing Biochip Technology, China. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81341081).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 2438 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (Video S1, AVI 10083 kb)

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Supplementary material 3 (Video S2, AVI 4212 kb)
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Supplementary material 4 (Video S3, AVI 6642 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Medicine, Collaborative Innovation Center for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious DiseasesTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Precision Instrument, School of Mechanical EngineeringTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.National Engineering Research Center for Beijing Biochip TechnologyBeijingChina

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