Multitarget Dielectrophoresis Activated Cell Sorter

The ability to rapidly and efficiently isolate specific viruses, bacteria, or mammalian cells from complex mixtures lies at the heart of biomedical applications ranging from in vitro diagnostics to cell transplantation therapies. Unfortunately, many current selection methods for cell separation, such as magnetic activated cell sorting (MACS), only allow the binary separation of target cells that have been labeled via a single parameter (e.g., magnetization). This limitation makes it challenging to simultaneously enrich multiple, distinct target cell types from a multicomponent sample. We describe here a novel approach to specifically label multiple cell types with unique synthetic dielectrophoretic tags that modulate the complex permittivities of the labeled cells, allowing them to be sorted with high purity using the multitarget dielectrophoresis activated cell sorter (MT-DACS) chip. Here we describe the underlying physics and design of the MT-DACS microfluidic device and demonstrate ∼1000-fold enrichment of multiple bacterial target cell types in a single-pass separation.