Development of Acoustic Microfluidic Platforms for Separation and Analysis of Particles and Cells
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Acoustofluidics has been an emerging technology that combines fluidic control of microfluidics technology and particle handling of acoustics technology. This integrative approach provides non-contact and efficient particle and cell manipulation inside microfluidic channels. In this work, two acoustofluidic platforms have been developed, one for environmental monitoring application and one for medical application. The first platform was developed that enabled trapping and quantification of crude oil droplets for environmental monitoring application. Crude oil spills have serious ecological and economic impacts. Detecting low concentrations of oil after dispersion into small oil droplets is challenging and has immense importance in marine environment monitoring, such as in the case of large-scale oil spill as well as chronic oil discharge. Current fluorescence-based oil detectors have trade-offs between detection sensitivity and portability. In this research an acoustic radiation force based microfluidic device was developed to trap and concentrate oil droplets in water, which facilitated highly sensitive fluorescence detection of concentrated oil droplets as well as sampling for further off-chip analysis. The developed system successfully trapped low concentration crude oil droplets utilizing a circular acoustic resonance cavity, detected the accumulated oil droplets with a compact fluorescence detector, and separated the concentrated oil droplets to a downstream collection outlet for further off-chip analysis. The second platform was developed to analyze the biophysical properties of cells such as their density and compressibility for differentiating cancer cells of different stages. It has been reported that biophysical properties of cells are related to cancer progression, where benign cells are less deformable and malignant cells are more deformable. This change has been generally interpreted as metastatic cancer cells being more capable to translocate through the narrow gaps of adjacent tissue and the epithelial cell layers of blood vessels. Therefore measuring biophysical properties of cells such as compressibility is of great importance to differentiate cancer cells having different metastatic potential. However current methods are low throughput, costly, and usually require expertise for operation. In this work, an acoustic radiation force based system was developed that allowed non-contact measurement of cell biophysical properties. The developed system utilized multi-frequency acoustic resonance simultaneously to allow highly accurate measurement of cell density and compressibility of cancer cells at high throughput using simple instrumentation. In summary, advancements in acoustofluidic technology enabled solving real world challenges in a wide range of applications, including environmental monitoring, cell biophysics, and cancer metastasis.
Wang, Han (2015). Development of Acoustic Microfluidic Platforms for Separation and Analysis of Particles and Cells. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from