Project no.4: Dielectrophoresis

Project developed by Sarah Burgarella, Biomedical System Engineer in the “Advanced System Technology (AST)” division of STMicroelectronics (Milan, Italy).

The physical manipulation of biological cells is a key point in the development of miniaturized systems for point-of-care analyses. Dielectrophoresis (DEP) represents a promising method in biomedical research for label-free cell manipulation without physical contact, by exploiting the dielectric properties of cells suspended in a microfluidic sample, under the action of high-gradient electric fields. 

In view of a more extended use of DEP phenomena in lab-on-chip devices for point-of-care settings, the projects aimed to develop a portable instrument, integrating on the same device the microfluidic biochip for cell manipulation and all the laboratory functions (i.e., DEP electric signal generation, microscopic observation of the biological sample under test and image acquisition) that are normally obtained by combining different nonportable standard laboratory instruments. The nonuniform electric field for cell manipulation on the biochip is generated by microelectrodes, patterned on the silicon substrate of microfluidic channels, using standard microfabrication techniques. Numerical modeling was performed to simulate the electric field distribution, quantify the DEP force, and optimize the geometry of the microelectrodes. 

Pubblications:

A portable and integrated instrument for cell manipulation by dielectrophoresis. Burgarella S, Di Bari M. A portable and integrated instrument for cell manipulation by dielectrophoresis. ELECTROPHORESIS. Volume36, Issue13, Special Issue: Dielectrophoresis 2015, July 2015, Pages 1466-1470,  doi: 10.1002/elps.201400481.


A portable instrument for cells manipulation by dielectrophoresis. Burgarella S, Di Bari M. A portable instrument for cells manipulation by dielectrophoresis. Proceedings of DIELECTROPHORESIS 2014 – First International Conference on Dielectrophoresis; 2014 July 14-16, London, UK.


Evaluation of Dielectrophoresis for the Isolation of Pancreatic Islets from Exocrine Tissue. Burgarella S, Merlo S, Figliuzzi M, Remuzzi A. Evaluation of Dielectrophoresis for the Isolation of Pancreatic Islets from Exocrine Tissue. Proceedings of the XXXI National Conference on Cytometry; 2013 October 8-11, Lucca, Italy. Poster award winner.


Isolation of Langerhans islets by dielectrophoresis. Burgarella S, Merlo S, Figliuzzi M, Remuzzi A. Isolation of Langerhans islets by dielectrophoresis. Electrophoresis. 2013 Apr;34(7):1068-75. doi: 10.1002/elps.201200294. Epub 2013 Feb 18.


Isolation of Pancreatic Islets by Dielectrophoresis. Burgarella S, Merlo S, Figliuzzi M, Remuzzi A. Isolation of Pancreatic Islets by Dielectrophoresis. Proceedings of BIOSENSORS 2012 – 22nd Anniversary World Congress on Biosensors, 15-18 May 2012, Cancun, Mexico.


Comparison of computational methods for the estimation of the dielectrophoretic force acting on biological cells and aggregates in silicon lab-on-chip devices. Burgarella S, Maggioni F, Naldi G. Comparison of computational methods for the estimation of the dielectrophoretic force acting on biological cells and aggregates in silicon lab-on-chip devices. Proceedings of European COMSOL Conference 2011, 26-28 October 2011, Stuttgart, Germany.


A modular micro-fluidic platform for cells handling by dielectrophoresis. Burgarella S, Merlo S, Dell’Anna B, Zarola G, Bianchessi M. A modular micro-fluidic platform for cells handling by dielectrophoresis. Microelectronic Engineering , 2010, vol. 87, p. 2124-2133.


A modular platform for cell characterization, handling and sorting by dielectrophoresis. Burgarella S, Bianchessi M, Merlo S. A modular platform for cell characterization, handling and sorting by dielectrophoresis. Proceedings of BIOSENSORS 2010 – 20th Anniversary World Congress on Biosensors, 26-28 May 2010, Glasgow, UK. Paper no P.3.3.012.


A modular platform for cell characterization, handling and sorting by dielectrophoresis. Burgarella S, Dell’Anna B, Zarola G, Perna V, Merlo S. A modular platform for cell characterization, handling and sorting by dielectrophoresis. Proceedings of the European COMSOL Conference 2009; 2009 Oct 14-16, Milan, Italy.


Numerical modeling of dielectrophoretic forces acting upon biological cells in silicon lab-on-chip devices. Burgarella S, Bianchessi M, De Fazio M. Numerical modeling of dielectrophoretic forces acting upon biological cells in silicon lab-on-chip devices. In: Petit J M, Squalli O, editors. Proceedings of the European COMSOL Conference 2007; 2007 Oct 23-24, Grenoble, France; p. 675-680.

© 2020 by Sarah Burgarella

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Manipulation of biological cells in the development of miniaturized systems for point-of-care analyses