Thermal loading in flow-through electroporation microfluidic devices
Thermal loading effects in flow-through electroporation microfluidic devices have been systematically investigated by using dye-based ratiometric luminescence thermometry. Fluorescence measurements have revealed the crucial role played by both the applied electric field and flow rate on the induced temperature increments at the electroporation sections of the devices. It has been found that Joule heating could raise the intra-channel temperature up to cytotoxic levels (>45 °C) only when conditions of low flow rates and high applied voltages are applied. Nevertheless, when flow rates and electric fields are set to those used in real electroporation experiments we have found that local heating is not larger than a few degrees, i.e. temperature is kept within the safe range (<32 °C). We also provide thermal images of electroporation devices from which the heat affected area can be elucidated. Experimental data have been found to be in excellent agreement with numerical simulations that have also revealed the presence of a non-homogeneous temperature distribution along the electroporation channel whose magnitude is critically dependent on both applied electric field and flow rate. Results included in this work will allow for full control over the electroporation conditions in flow-through microfluidic devices.