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Microfluidic electromanipulation with capacitive detection for the mechanical analysis of cells
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The mechanical behavior of cells offers insight into many aspects of their properties. We propose an approach to the mechanical analysis of cells that uses a combination of electromanipulation for stimulus and capacitance for sensing. To demonstrate this approach, polystyrene spheres and yeast cells flowing in a microfluidic channel were detected by a perpendicular pair of gold thin film electrodes in the channel, spaced apart. The presence of cells was detected by capacitance changes between the goldelectrodes. The capacitance sensor was a resonant coaxial radio frequency cavity coupled to the electrodes. The presence of yeast cells (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and polystyrene spheres resulted in capacitance changes of approximately 10 and 100 attoFarad (aF), respectively, with an achieved capacitance resolution of less than in a bandwidth. The resolution is better than previously reported in the literature, and the capacitance changes are in agreement with values estimated by finite element simulations. Yeast cells were trapped using dielectrophoretic forces by applying a signal at between the electrodes. After trapping, the cells were displaced using amplitude and frequency modulated voltages to produce modulated dielectrophoretic forces. Repetitive displacement and relaxation of these cells was observed using both capacitance and video microscopy.
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