High-yield cell ordering and deterministic cell-in-droplet encapsulation using Dean flow in a curved microchannel

Lab Chip. 2012 Aug 21;12(16):2881-7. doi: 10.1039/c2lc00013j. Epub 2012 Jun 12.


In this article high-yield (77%) and high-speed (2700 cells s(-1)) single cell droplet encapsulation is described using a Dean-coupled inertial ordering of cells in a simple curved continuous microchannel. By introducing the Dean force, the particles will order to one equilibrium position after travelling less than 1 cm. We use a planar curved microchannel structure in PDMS to spatially order two types of myeloid leukemic cells (HL60 and K562 cells), enabling deterministic single cell encapsulation in picolitre drops. An efficiency of up to 77% was reached, overcoming the limitations imposed by Poisson statistics for random cell loading, which yields only 37% of drops containing a single cell. Furthermore, we confirm that > 90% of the cells remain viable. The simple planar structure and high throughput provided by this passive microfluidic approach makes it attractive for implementation in lab on a chip (LOC) devices for single cell applications using droplet-based platforms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Survival
  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes / chemistry
  • Equipment Design
  • HL-60 Cells
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • K562 Cells
  • Lab-On-A-Chip Devices
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / methods*
  • Microspheres
  • Oils / chemistry
  • Particle Size


  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes
  • Oils