Cell based cancer analysis is an important analytic method to monitor cancer progress on stages by detecting the density of circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in the blood. Among the existing microfluidic techniques, dielectrophoresis (DEP), which is a label-free detection method, is favoured by researchers. However, because of the high conductivity of blood as well as the rare presence of CTCs, high separation efficiency is difficult to achieve in most DEP microdevices. Through this study, we have proposed a strategy to improve the isolation performance, as such by integrating a magnetophoretic (MAP) platform into a DEP device. Several important aspects to be taken into MAP design consideration, such as permanent magnet orientation, magnetic track configuration, fluid flow parameter and separation efficiency, are discussed. The design was examined and validated by numerical simulation using COMSOL Multiphysics v4.4 software (COMSOL Inc., Burlington, MA, USA), mainly presented in three forms: surface plot, line plot, and arrow plot. From these results, we showed that the use of a single permanent magnet coupled with an inbuilt magnetic track of 250 μm significantly strengthens the magnetic field distribution within the proposed MAP stage. Besides, in order to improve dynamic pressure without compromising the uniformity of fluid flow, a wide channel inlet and a tree-like network were employed. When the cell trajectory within a finalized MAP stage is computed with a particle tracing module, a high separation efficiency of red blood cell (RBC) is obtained for blood samples corresponding up to a dilution ratio of 1:7. Moreover, a substantial enhancement of the CTCs’ recovery rate was also observed in the simulation when the purposed platform was integrated with a planar DEP microdevice.
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