Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 1208–1216 | Cite as

Automated Micropipette Aspiration of Single Cells

  • Ehsan Shojaei-Baghini
  • Yi Zheng
  • Yu SunEmail author


This paper presents a system for mechanically characterizing single cells using automated micropipette aspiration. Using vision-based control and position control, the system controls a micromanipulator, a motorized translation stage, and a custom-built pressure system to position a micropipette (4 μm opening) to approach a cell, form a seal, and aspirate the cell into the micropipette for quantifying the cell’s elastic and viscoelastic parameters as well as viscosity. Image processing algorithms were developed to provide controllers with real-time visual feedback and to accurately measure cell deformation behavior on line. Experiments on both solid-like and liquid-like cells demonstrated that the system is capable of efficiently performing single-cell micropipette aspiration and has low operator skill requirements.


Robotic cell manipulation Visual servoing Biological cell characterization Micropipette aspiration Mechanical properties 



The authors thank John Nguyen for helpful discussions and thank Haijiao Liu and Prof. Craig Simmons for PAVIC cell preparation. The authors acknowledge financial support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canada Research Chairs Program.

Conflict of interest

The authors confirm that there are no known conflicts of interest associated with this publication and there has been no significant financial support for this work that could have influenced its outcome.

Supplementary material

10439_2013_791_MOESM1_ESM.docx (574 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 573 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (MP4 11752 kb)

Supplementary material 3 (MP4 21422 kb)


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical and Industrial EngineeringUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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