A centrifugal microfluidic platform for capturing, assaying and manipulation of beads and biological cells
Burger, Robert (2012) A centrifugal microfluidic platform for capturing, assaying and manipulation of beads and biological cells. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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Microfluidics is deemed a field with great opportunities, especially for applications in medical diagnostics. The vision is to miniaturize processes typically performed in a central clinical lab into small, simple to use devices - so called lab-on-a-chip (LOC) systems. A wide variety of concepts for liquid actuation have been developed, including pressure driven flow, electro-osmotic actuation or capillary driven methods. This work is based on the centrifugal platform (lab-on-a-disc). Fluid actuation is performed by the forces induced due to the rotation of the disc, thus eliminating the need for external pumps since only a spindle motor is necessary to rotate the disc and propel the liquids inside of the micro structures. Lab-on-a-disc systems are especially promising for point-of-care applications involving particles or cells due to the centrifugal force present in a rotating system. Capturing, assaying and identification of biological cells and microparticles are important operations for lab-on-a-disc platforms, and the focus of this work is to provide novel building blocks towards an integrated system for cell and particle based assays. As a main outcome of my work, a novel particle capturing and manipulation scheme on a centrifugal microfluidic platform has been developed. To capture particles (biological cells or micro-beads) I designed an array of V-shaped micro cups and characterized it. Particles sediment under stagnant flow conditions into the array where they are then mechanically trapped in spatially well-defined locations. Due to the absence of flow during the capturing process, i.e. particle sedimentation is driven by the artificial gravity field on the centrifugal platform, the capture efficiency of this approach is close to 100% which is notably higher than values reported for typical pressure driven systems. After capturing the particles, the surrounding medium can easily be exchanged to expose them to various conditions such as staining solutions or washing buffers, and thus perform assays on the captured particles. By scale matching the size of the capturing elements to the size of the particles, sharply peaked single occupancy can be achieved. Since all particles are arrayed in the same focal plane in spatially well defined locations, operations such as counting or fluorescent detection can be performed easily. The application of this platform to perform multiplexed bead-based immunoassays as well as the discrimination of various cell types based on intra cellular and membrane based markers using fluorescently tagged antibodies is demonstrated. Additionally, methods to manipulate captured particles either in batch mode or on an individual particle level have been developed and characterized. Batch release of captured particles is performed by a novel magnetic actuator which is solely controlled by the rotation frequency of the disc. Furthermore, the application of this actuator to rapidly mix liquids is shown. Manipulation of individual particles is performed using an optical tweezers setup which has been developed as part of this work. Additionally, this optical module also provides fluorescence detection capabilities. This is the first time that optical tweezers have been combined with a centrifugal microfluidic system.
This work presents the core technology for an integrated centrifugal platform to perform cell and particle based assays for fundamental research as well as for point-of-
The key outputs of my specific work are:
1. Design, fabrication and characterization of a novel particle capturing scheme on a centrifugal microfluidic platform (V-cups) with very high capture efficiency (close to 100%) and sharply peaked single occupancy (up to 99.7%
2. A novel rotation frequency controlled magnetic actuator for releasing captured particles as well as for rapidly mixing liquids has been developed, manufactured
3. The V-cup platform has successfully been employed to capture cells and perform multi-step antibody staining assays for cell discrimination.
4. An optical tweezers setup has been built and integrated into a centrifugal teststand, and successful manipulation of individual particles trapped in the V-cup array is demonstrated.
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