BioChip Journal

, 5:8 | Cite as

Polymer microcantilever arrays for high-throughput separation using a combination of dielectrophoresis and sedimentations

  • Junghun Lee
  • Youngho Kim
  • Younggeun Kim
  • Jungyul Park
  • Byungkyu KimEmail author
Original Research


This paper presents a polymer microcantilever platform for handling massive microparticles or cells using combined forces induced by dielectrophoresis and gravity. Although cell separation based on dielectrophoresis is a very useful and versatile method, its low throughput is a key problem that must be resolved before it can be used clinically. In this study, high throughput separation could be achieved without any external pumping or complex microtubing by combining dielelectrophoresis and sedimentation. The absence of any external pumping or injection system makes it possible to realize a simple configuration of devices with low cost and easy separation procedures, which is carried out by just dropping the target microparticles without any pretreatment. The transport of microparticles is driven by gravitation in the medium, and during the sedimentation the particles are either deflected from or pass through the gap between the microcantilevers depending on their physical properties. The position of passing through is defined by the equilibrium point between the dielectrophoretic force and gravity. We compared the degree of complexity of the fabrication process and its successful throughput between both the glass-based and polymerbased microcantilevers. The feasibility of our suggestion was demonstrated by performing microparticle separation experimentally, which showed that our device can be applied in various biological areas.


Dielectrophoresis Sedimentation Microcantilevers SU-8 High throughput 


  1. 1.
    Choi, E., Kim, B. & Park, J. High-throughput microparticle separation using gradient traveling wave dielectrophoresis. J. Micromech. Microeng. 19, 125014 (2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Miltenyi, S., Muller, W., Weichel, W. & Radbruch, A. High gradient magnetic cell separation with MACS. Cytometry 11, 231–238 (1990).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Malatesta, P., Hartfuss, E. & Gotz, M. Isolation of radial glial cells by fluorescent-activated cell sorting reveals a neuronal lineage. Development 127, 5253–5263 (2000).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kim, U. et al. Multitarget dielectrophoresis activated cell sorter. Anal. Chem. 80, 8656–8661 (2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Das, C.M. et al. Dielectrophoretic segregation of different human cell types on microscope slides. Anal. Chem. 77, 2708–2719 (2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Yang, J. et al. Differential analysis of human leukocytes by dielectrophoretic field-flow-fractionation. Biophys. J. 78, 2680–2689 (2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gascoyne, P.R.C., Wang, X.B., Huang, Y. & Becker, F.F. Dielectrophoretic separation of cancer cells from blood. IEEE Trans. Ind. Appl. 33, 670–678 (1997).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Li, H.B. & Bashir, R. Dielectrophoretic separation and manipulation of live and heat-treated cells of Listeria on microfabricated devices with interdigitated electrodes. Sens. Actuators B 86, 215–221 (2002).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Huang, Y., Wang, X.B., Becker, F.F. & Gascoyne, P.R.C. Introducing dielectrophoresis as a new force field for field-flow fractionation. Biophys. J. 73, 1118–1129 (1997).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Muller, T. et al. A 3-D microelectrode system for handling and caging single cells and particles. Biosen. Bioelectron. 14, 247–256 (1999).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Durr, M. et al. Microdevices for manipulation and accumulation of micro- and nanoparticles by dielectrophoresis. Electrophoresis 24, 722–731 (2003).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Park, J. et al. An efficient cell separation system using 3D-asymmetric microelectrodes. Lab. Chip. 5, 1264–1270 (2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Morgan, H. et al. The dielectrophoretic and travelling wave forces generated by interdigitated electrode arrays: analytical solution using Fourier series. J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 34, 1553–1561 (2001).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Green, N.G., Hughes, M.P., Monaghan, W. & Morgan, H. Large area multilayered electrode arrays for dielectrophoretic fractionation. Microelectr. Eng. 35, 421–424 (1997).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Cui, L. & Morgan, H. Design and fabrication of travelling wave dielectrophoresis structures. J. Micromech. Microeng. 10, 72–79 (2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Cui, L., Holmes, D. & Morgan, H. The dielectrophoretic levitation and separation of latex beads in microchips. Electrophoresis 22, 3893–3901 (2001).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Pohl, H.A. Dielectrophoresis: The behavior of neurtral matter in non-uniform electric fields. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press (1978).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Zhou, X.F., Markx, G.H., Pethig, R. & Eastwood, I. M. Differentiation of viable and nonviable bacterial biofilms using electrorotation. Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1245, 85–93 (1995).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Korean BioChip Society and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Junghun Lee
    • 1
  • Youngho Kim
    • 1
  • Younggeun Kim
    • 1
  • Jungyul Park
    • 2
  • Byungkyu Kim
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Aerospace and Mechanical EngineeringKorea Aerospace UniversityGoyang, Gyeonggi-doKorea
  2. 2.Mechanical EngineeringSogang UniversitySeoulKorea

Personalised recommendations