Positionable vertical microfluidic cell based on electromigration in a theta pipet

Michael A. O'Connell, Michael E. Snowden, Kim McKelvey, Florence Gayet, Ian Shirley, David M. Haddleton, Patrick R. Unwin

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13 Citations (Scopus)


A microscale vertical fluidic cell system has been implemented, based on a simple theta pipet pulled to a sharp point (ca. 10-20 Îm diameter for the studies herein) and positioned with a high degree of control on a surface. The dual channel arrangement allows an electric field to be generated between an electrode in each compartment of the pipet that can be used to control the electromigration of charged species between the two compartments, across a thin liquid meniscus in contact with the substrate of interest. By visualizing the interfacial region using laser scanning confocal microscopy, the adsorption of fluorescently-labeled materials on surfaces is monitored quantitatively in real time, exemplified through studies of the adsorption of anionic microparticles (1.1 Îm diameter) on positively and negatively charged substrate surfaces of poly-l-lysine (PLL) and poly-l-glutamic acid (PGA), respectively, on glass. These studies highlight significant electrostatic effects on adsorption rates and also that the adsorption of these particles is dominated by the three phase meniscus/solid/air boundary. The technique is easily modified to the case of a submerged substrate, resulting in a much larger deposition area. Finite element method modeling is used to calculate local electric field strengths that are used to understand surface deposition patterns. To demonstrate the applicability of the technique to live biological substrates, the delivery of fluorescent particles directly to the surface of a single root hair cell of Zea mays is demonstrated. The mobile pipet allows deposition to be directed to specific regions of the cell, allowing discrete sites to be labeled with particles. Finally, the technique is used to study the uptake of fluorescent polymer molecules to single root hair cells, with quantitative analysis of the adsorption rates of vinyl-sulfonic acid copolymers, with varying rhodamine B content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10011-10018
Number of pages8
Issue number33
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

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