The capability of isolating and sorting specific types of cells is crucial in life science, particularly for the early diagnosis of lethal diseases and monitoring of medical treatments. Among all the micro-fluidics techniques for cell sorting, inertial focusing combined with the laminar vortex technology is a powerful method to isolate cells from flowing samples in an efficient manner. This label-free method does not require any external force to be applied, and allows high throughput and continuous sample separation, thus offering a high filtration efficiency over a wide range of particle sizes. Although rather recent, this technology and its applications are rapidly growing, thanks to the development of new chip designs, the employment of new materials and microfabrication technologies. In this review, a comprehensive overview is provided on the most relevant works which employ inertial focusing and laminar vortex technology to sort particles. After briefly summarizing the other cells sorting techniques, highlighting their limitations, the physical mechanisms involved in particle trapping and sorting are described. Then, the materials and microfabrication methods used to implement this technology on miniaturized devices are illustrated. The most relevant evolution steps in the chips design are discussed, and their performances critically analyzed to suggest future developments of this technology.
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