Alignment of microscopic particles in electric fields and its biological implications

Biophys J. 1985 Apr;47(4):513-8. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(85)83945-X.


It is well known that electromagnetic fields cause mechanical forces. If one applies an electrical field to a suspension of microscopic particles, these particles realign themselves along the direction of the field and form pearl-chain-like aggregates. These chains are mostly single stranded but they are frequently multistranded. This phenomenon has been investigated by a number of groups. Here we discuss the dependence of threshold field strength on particle size and frequency. Also, pulsed fields have been thought to be more effective than continuous fields of the same average power in evoking biological effects. Our measurement of the threshold power requirement for the pearl-chain formation indicates that pulsed fields require as much power as continuous fields. The biological significance of pearl-chain formation is briefly discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Electricity
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena*
  • Emulsions
  • Particle Size
  • Silicon*


  • Emulsions
  • Silicon