Parallel manipulation of individual magnetic microbeads for lab-on-a-chip applications
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Many scientists and engineers are turning to lab-on-a-chip systems for cheaper and high throughput analysis of chemical reactions and biomolecular interactions. In this work, we developed several lab-on-a-chip modules based on novel manipulations of individual microbeads inside microchannels. The first manipulation method employs arrays of soft ferromagnetic patterns fabricated inside a microfluidic channel and subjected to an external rotating magnetic field. We demonstrated that the system can be used to assemble individual beads (1-3µm) from a flow of suspended beads into a regular array on the chip, hence improving the integrated electrochemical detection of biomolecules bound to the bead surface. In addition, the microbeads can follow the external magnet rotating at very high speeds and simultaneously orbit around individual soft magnets on the chip. We employed this manipulation mode for efficient sample mixing in continuous microflow. Furthermore, we discovered a simple but effective way of transporting the microbeads on-chip in the rotating field. Selective transport of microbeads with different size was also realized, providing a platform for effective sample separation on a chip. The second manipulation method integrates magnetic and dielectrophoretic manipulations of the same microbeads. The device combines tapered conducting wires and fingered electrodes to generate desirable magnetic and electric fields, respectively. By externally programming the magnetic attraction and dielectrophoretic repulsion forces, out-of-plane oscillation of the microbeads across the channel height was realized. Furthermore, we demonstrated the tweezing of microbeads in liquid with high spatial resolutions by fine-tuning the net force from magnetic attraction and dielectrophoretic repulsion of the beads. The high-resolution control of the out-of-plane motion of the microbeads has led to the invention of massively parallel biomolecular tweezers.