Single cell manipulation technology has been widely applied in biological fields, such as cell injection/enucleation, cell physiological measurement, and cell imaging. Recently, a biochip platform with a novel configuration of electrodes for cell 3D rotation has been successfully developed by generating rotating electric fields. However, the rotation platform still has two major shortcomings that need to be improved. The primary problem is that there is no on-chip module to facilitate the placement of a single cell into the rotation chamber, which causes very low efficiency in experiment to manually pipette single 10-micron-scale cells into rotation position. Secondly, the cell in the chamber may suffer from unstable rotation, which includes gravity-induced sinking down to the chamber bottom or electric-force-induced on-plane movement. To solve the two problems, in this paper we propose a new microfluidic chip with manipulation capabilities of single cell trap and single cell 3D stable rotation, both on one chip. The new microfluidic chip consists of two parts. The top capture part is based on the least flow resistance principle and is used to capture a single cell and to transport it to the rotation chamber. The bottom rotation part is based on dielectrophoresis (DEP) and is used to 3D rotate the single cell in the rotation chamber with enhanced stability. The two parts are aligned and bonded together to form closed channels for microfluidic handling. Using COMSOL simulation and preliminary experiments, we have verified, in principle, the concept of on-chip single cell traps and 3D stable rotation, and identified key parameters for chip structures, microfluidic handling, and electrode configurations. The work has laid a solid foundation for on-going chip fabrication and experiment validation.
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