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We present a novel approach for label-free concentration measurement of a specific protein in a solution. The technique combines optical tweezers and microelectrophoresis to establish the electrophoretic mobility of a single microparticle suspended in the solution. From this mobility measurement, the amount of adsorbed protein on the particle is derived. Using this method, we determine the concentration of avidin in a buffer solution. After calibration of the setup, which accounts for electro-osmotic flow in the measurement device, the mobilities of both bare and biotinylated microspheres are measured as a function of the avidin concentration in the mixture. Two types of surface adsorption are identified: the biotinylated particles show specific adsorption, resulting from the binding of avidin molecules with biotin, at low avidin concentrations (below 0.04 g/ml) while at concentrations of several g/ml non-specific on both types of particles is observed. These two adsorption mechanisms are incorporated in a theoretical model describing the relation between the measured mobility and the avidin concentration in the mixture. This model describes the electrophoretic mobility of these particles accurately over four orders of magnitude of the avidin concentration.


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