Microfluidic Device Using Dielectrophoresis Separation of Heterogeneous Cell Populations

Tech ID: 21272 / UC Case 2011-181-0

Brief Description

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine have developed an automated microfluidic device that traps different cell populations in different chambers based on the cells’ dielectric properties. The device consists of one main channel with individual sets of electrodes in three or more different chambers. Each set of electrodes generates a non-uniform electric field that traps and therefore separates a heterogeneous cell population at different frequency ranges due to dielectrophoretic forces.

These trapping chambers are intersected by channels perpendicular to the main channel. Flow along the different channels is controlled by actuating pneumatic valves. To retrieve the cells, the flow in the main channel is stopped and flow from the perpendicular channels is initiated. The trapped cells are then captured into collection wells.

Suggested uses

This microfluidic device may be used to separate a heterogeneous cell population for analysis, treatment, or diagnosis.


Unlike microfluidic devices that use flow-field fractionation, this device contains actuators that actively capture a desired cell population.

State Of Development

A prototype has been developed.


The prototype has been shown to differentiate and enrich stem cells at different development ages.


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  • Flanagan, Lisa A.
  • Lee, Abraham P.
  • Lopez-Prieto, Javier

Other Information


stem cell, dielectrophoresis, DEP, microfluidic

Categorized As

  • Institute for Innovation Logo
  • Institute for Innovation Logo

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