Combining Step Gradients and Linear Gradients in Density

Combining aqueous multiphase systems (AMPS) and magnetic levitation (MagLev) provides a method to produce hybrid gradients in apparent density. AMPSsolutions of different polymers, salts, or surfactants that spontaneously separate into immiscible but predominantly aqueous phasesoffer thermodynamically stable steps in density that can be tuned by the concentration of solutes. MagLevthe levitation of diamagnetic objects in a paramagnetic fluid within a magnetic field gradientcan be arranged to provide a near-linear gradient in effective density where the height of a levitating object above the surface of the magnet corresponds to its density; the strength of the gradient in effective density can be tuned by the choice of paramagnetic salt and its concentrations and by the strength and gradient in the magnetic field. Including paramagnetic salts (e.g., MnSO4 or MnCl2) in AMPS, and placing them in a magnetic field gradient, enables their use as media for MagLev. The potential to create large steps in density with AMPS allows separations of objects across a range of densities. The gradients produced by MagLev provide resolution over a continuous range of densities. By combining these approaches, mixtures of objects with large differences in density can be separated and analyzed simultaneously. Using MagLev to add an effective gradient in density also enables tuning the range of densities captured at an interface of an AMPS by simply changing the position of the container in the magnetic field. Further, by creating AMPS in which phases have different concentrations of paramagnetic ions, the phases can provide different resolutions in density. These results suggest that combining steps in density with gradients in density can enable new classes of separations based on density.