Self-folding single cell grippers

Nano Lett. 2014 Jul 9;14(7):4164-70. doi: 10.1021/nl500136a. Epub 2014 Jun 17.


Given the heterogeneous nature of cultures, tumors, and tissues, the ability to capture, contain, and analyze single cells is important for genomics, proteomics, diagnostics, therapeutics, and surgery. Moreover, for surgical applications in small conduits in the body such as in the cardiovascular system, there is a need for tiny tools that approach the size of the single red blood cells that traverse the blood vessels and capillaries. We describe the fabrication of arrayed or untethered single cell grippers composed of biocompatible and bioresorbable silicon monoxide and silicon dioxide. The energy required to actuate these grippers is derived from the release of residual stress in 3-27 nm thick films, did not require any wires, tethers, or batteries, and resulted in folding angles over 100° with folding radii as small as 765 nm. We developed and applied a finite element model to predict these folding angles. Finally, we demonstrated the capture of live mouse fibroblast cells in an array of grippers and individual red blood cells in untethered grippers which could be released from the substrate to illustrate the potential utility for in vivo operations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry
  • Cell Line
  • Dogs
  • Erythrocytes / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Mice
  • Oxides / chemistry
  • Silicon Compounds / chemistry
  • Silicon Dioxide / chemistry
  • Single-Cell Analysis / instrumentation*
  • Tissue Array Analysis / instrumentation*


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Oxides
  • Silicon Compounds
  • silicon monoxide
  • Silicon Dioxide