Microfluidic cell sorter with integrated piezoelectric actuator

Biomed Microdevices. 2009 Dec;11(6):1223-31. doi: 10.1007/s10544-009-9341-5.


We demonstrate a low-power (<0.1 mW), low-voltage (<10 V(p-p)) on-chip piezoelectrically actuated micro-sorter that can deflect single particles and cells at high-speed. With rhodamine in the stream, switching of flow between channels can be visualized at high actuation frequency (micro1.7 kHz). The magnitude of the cell deflection can be precisely controlled by the magnitude and waveform of input voltage. Both simulation and experimental results indicate that the drag force imposed on the suspended particle/cell by the instantaneous fluid displacement can alter the trajectory of the particle/cell of any size, shape, and density of interest in a controlled manner. The open-loop E. Coli cell deflection experiment demonstrates that the sorting mechanism can produce a throughput of at least 330 cells/s, with a promise of a significantly higher throughput for an optimized design. To achieve close-loop sorting operation, fluorescence detection, real-time signal processing, and field-programmable-gate-array (FPGA) implementation of the control algorithms were developed to perform automated sorting of fluorescent beads. The preliminary results show error-free sorting at a sorting efficiency of micro 70%. Since the piezoelectric actuator has an intrinsic response time of 0.1-1 ms and the sorting can be performed under high flowrate (particle speed of micro 1-10 cm/s), the system can achieve a throughput of >1,000 particles/s with high purity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Separation / instrumentation*
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Filtration
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted