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Ultrasound Used to Rotate Biological Samples Within Microfluidic Devices

Ultrasound Used to Rotate Biological Samples Within Microfluidic Devices

Micro fluidic devices have come a long way over the past decade, able to perform advanced diagnostics and to manipulate objects flowing through them in interesting ways. Yet, one thing that has been a challenge is the difficulty of rotating fragile cells and tiny organisms so that they’re not damaged by the process. Now researchers at Penn State have reported on an acoustic approach they’ve developed of turning objects within a micro fluidic device so that it can be examined from all angles.

The team used ultrasound transducers to create tiny vortexes within the liquid samples that are tuned just right so that they rotate whatever is within. For example, the investigators were able to spin the commonly studied HeLa cancer cells, as well as the C. elegans roundworm that’s only a millimeter in length.

The new technology allows researchers to use cheap imaging devices, including common smart phones, to photograph the samples and create three-dimensional representation of what’s being studied.

A method to rotate single particles, cells or organisms using acoustic waves in a micro fluidic device will allow researchers to take three dimensional images with only a cell phone.

Acoustic waves can move and position biological specimens along the x, y and z axes, but for the first time researchers at Penn State have used them to gently and safely rotate samples, a crucial capability in single-cell analysis, drug discovery and organism studies.

The research, published today in Nature Communications, was led by Tony Jun Huang, professor of engineering science and mechanics and Huck Distinguished Chair in Bioengineering Science. Huang and his group created an acousto fluidic rotational manipulation (ARM) method that traps bubbles in a series of small cavities inside a micro fluidic device. Acoustic transducers similar to ultrasound imaging transducers create an acoustic wave in the fluid, making the bubbles vibrate, which creates micro vortexes in the flowing liquid that are tunable so the sample rotates in any direction and at any desired speed.

“Currently confocal microscopes are required in many biological, biochemical and biomedical studies, but many labs do not have access to a confocal microscope, which costs more than $200,000,” said Huang. “Our ARM method is a very inexpensive platform and it is compatible with all the optical characterization tools. You can literally use a cell phone to do three-dimensional imaging.”

To demonstrate the device’s capabilities, the researchers rotated C. elegans, a model organism about a millimeter in length frequently used in biological studies. They also acoustically rotated and imaged a HeLa cancer cell.

Existing methods of manipulating small objects depend on the optical, magnetic or electrical properties of the specimen, and/or damage the specimen due to laser heating. The ARM method, on the other hand, uses a gentle acoustic wave generated by a power similar to ultrasound imaging, and at a lower frequency. The device is also compact and simple to use.

“Our method is a valuable platform for imaging and studying the effect of rotation at the single cell level,” said co-lead author Adem Ozceki, graduate student in engineering science and mechanics. “More important, with the capacity to rotate large numbers of cells in parallel, researchers will be able to perform high-throughput single-cell studies.”

In addition to its applicability to a large range of biological and physical science investigations, ARM technology shows excellent biocompatibility in a HeLa cell viability test in which 99.2 percent of cells survived manipulation.

Also contributing to “Rotational manipulation of single cells and organisms using acoustic waves” were former group member Daniel Ahmed, Ph.D.; graduate students Nagagireesh Bojanala, Nitesh Nama, Awani Upadhyay, Yuchao Chen; and Wendy Hanna-Rose, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology; all from Penn State.

The National Institutes of Health; National Science Foundation; and the Center for Nanoscale Science, an NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at Penn State supported this work. Components of the work were conducted at the Penn State Materials Research Institute’s Nanofabrication Laboratory.


Courtesy :

  • http://www.medgadget.com/2016/03/ultrasound-used-to-rotate-biological-samples-within-microfluidic-devices.html  dated March 28th, 2016.
  • http://news.psu.edu/story/399392/2016/03/23/research/microfluidic-devices-gently-rotate-small-organisms-and-cells By Walt Mills, dated March 23rd, 2016.

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