Off-chip passivated-electrode, insulator-based dielectrophoresis (OπDEP)
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In this study, we report the first off-chip passivated electrode, insulator-based dielectrophoresis microchip (OπDEP). This technique combines the sensitivity of electrode-based dielectrophoresis (eDEP) with the high throughput and inexpensive device characteristics of insulator-based dielectrophoresis (iDEP). The device is composed of a permanent, reusable set of electrodes and a disposable, polymer microfluidic chip with microposts embedded in the microchannel. The device operates by capacitively coupling the electric fields into the microchannel; thus, no physical connections are made between the electrodes and the microfluidic device. During operation, the polydimethylsiloxan (PDMS) microfluidic chip fits onto the electrode substrate as a disposable cartridge. OπDEP uses insulting structures within the channel as well as parallel electrodes to create DEP forces by the same working principle that iDEP devices use. The resulting devices create DEP forces which are larger by two orders of magnitude for the same applied voltage when compared to off-chip eDEP designs from literature, which rely on parallel electrodes alone to produce the DEP forces. The larger DEP forces allow the OπDEP device to operate at high flow rates exceeding 1 mL/h. In order to demonstrate this technology, Escherichia coli (E. coli), a known waterborne pathogen, was trapped from water samples. Trapping efficiencies of 100 % were obtained at flow rates as high as 400 μL/h and 60 % at flow rates as high as 1200 μL/h. Additionally, bacteria were selectively concentrated from a suspension of polystyrene beads.