Particle focusing in a contactless dielectrophoretic microfluidic chip with insulating structures

Chun Ping Jen, Nikolay A. Maslov, Hsin Yuan Shih, Yung-Chun Lee, Fei Bin Hsiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The focusing of biological and synthetic particles in microfluidic devices is a crucial step for the construction of many microstructured materials as well as for medical applications. The present study examines the feasibility of using contactless dielectrophoresis (cDEP) in an insulator-based dielectrophoretic (iDEP) microdevice to effectively focus particles. Particles 10 μm in diameter were introduced into the microchannel and pre-confined hydrodynamically by funnel-shaped insulating structures near the inlet. The particles were repelled toward the center of the microchannel by the negative DEP forces generated by the insulating structures. The microchip was fabricated based on the concept of cDEP. The electric field in the main microchannel was generated using electrodes inserted into two conductive micro-reservoirs, which were separated from the main microchannel by 20-μm-thick insulating barriers made of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). The impedance spectrum of the thin insulating PDMS barrier was measured to investigate its capacitive behavior. Experiments employing polystyrene particles were conducted to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed microdevice. Results show that the particle focusing performance increased with increasing frequency of the applied AC voltage due to the reduced impedance of PDMS barriers at high frequencies. When the frequency was above 800 kHz, most particles were focused into a single file. The smallest width of focused particles distributed at the outlet was about 13.1 μm at a frequency of 1 MHz. Experimental results also show that the particle focusing performance improved with increasing applied electric field strength and decreasing inlet flow rate. The usage of the cDEP technique makes the proposed microchip mechanically robust and chemically inert.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1879-1886
Number of pages8
JournalMicrosystem Technologies
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Nov 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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