Novel microfluidic device for the continuous separation of cancer cells using dielectrophoresis

Anas Alazzam, Bobby Mathew, Falah Alhammadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


We describe the design, microfabrication, and testing of a microfluidic device for the separation of cancer cells based on dielectrophoresis. Cancer cells, specifically green fluorescent protein-labeled MDA-MB-231, are successfully separated from a heterogeneous mixture of the same and normal blood cells. MDA-MB-231 cancer cells are separated with an accuracy that enables precise detection and counting of circulating tumor cells present among normal blood cells. The separation is performed using a set of planar interdigitated transducer electrodes that are deposited on the surface of a glass wafer and slightly protrude into the separation microchannel at one side. The device includes two parts, namely, a glass wafer and polydimethylsiloxane element. The device is fabricated using standard microfabrication techniques. All experiments are conducted with low conductivity sucrose-dextrose isotonic medium. The variation in response between MDA-MB-231 cancer cells and normal cells to a certain band of alternating-current frequencies is used for continuous separation of cells. The fabrication of the microfluidic device, preparation of cells and medium, and flow conditions are detailed. The proposed microdevice can be used to detect and separate malignant cells from heterogeneous mixture of cells for the purpose of early screening for cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1193-1200
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Separation Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2017


  • cell separation
  • circulating tumor cells
  • dielectrophoresis
  • microchips
  • microfluidics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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