On the low-frequency dispersion observed in dielectrophoresis spectra

Michael Pycraft Hughes, Krista S.P. Clarke, Rashedul Hoque, Oreoluwa V. Griffiths, Emily J. Kruchek, Federico Bertagna, Kamalan Jeevaratnam, Rebecca Lewis, Fatima H. Labeed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The foundation of dielectrophoresis (DEP) as a tool for biological investigation is the use of the Clausius–Mossotti (C–M) factor to model the observed behaviour of cells experiencing DEP across a frequency range. Nevertheless, it is also the case that at lower frequencies, the DEP spectrum deviates from predictions; there exists a rise in DEP polarisability, which varies in frequency and magnitude with different cell types and medium conductivities. In order to evaluate the origin of this effect, we have studied DEP spectra from five cell types (erythrocytes, platelets, neurons, HeLa cancer cells and monocytes) in several conditions including medium conductivity and cell treatment. Our results suggest the effect manifests as a low-pass dispersion whose cut-off frequency varies with membrane conductance and capacitance as determined using the DEP spectrum; the effect also varies as a logarithm of medium conductivity and Debye length. These together suggest that the values of membrane capacitance and conductance depend not only on the impedance of the membrane itself, but also of the surrounding double layer. The amplitude of the effect in different cell types compared to the C–M factor was found to correlate with the depolarisation factors for the cells’ shapes, suggesting that this ratio may be useful as an indicator of cell shape for DEP modelling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1080-1087
Number of pages8
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


  • conductance
  • dielectrophoresis
  • electrome
  • polarisation
  • surface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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