Microfluidic cell sorter with integrated piezoelectric actuator

Chun H. Chen, Sung Hwan Cho, Frank Tsai, Ahmet Erten, Yu Hwa Lo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


We demonstrate a low-power (<0.1 mW), low-voltage (<10 V p-p) on-chip piezoelectrically actuated micro-sorter that can deflect single particles and cells at high-speed. With rhodamine in the stream, switching of flow between channels can be visualized at high actuation frequency (~1.7 kHz). The magnitude of the cell deflection can be precisely controlled by the magnitude and waveform of input voltage. Both simulation and experimental results indicate that the drag force imposed on the suspended particle/cell by the instantaneous fluid displacement can alter the trajectory of the particle/cell of any size, shape, and density of interest in a controlled manner. The open-loop E. Coli cell deflection experiment demonstrates that the sorting mechanism can produce a throughput of at least 330 cells/s, with a promise of a significantly higher throughput for an optimized design. To achieve close-loop sorting operation, fluorescence detection, real-time signal processing, and field-programmable-gate-array (FPGA) implementation of the control algorithms were developed to perform automated sorting of fluorescent beads. The preliminary results show error-free sorting at a sorting efficiency of ~70%. Since the piezoelectric actuator has an intrinsic response time of 0.1-1 ms and the sorting can be performed under high flowrate (particle speed of ~1-10 cm/s), the system can achieve a throughput of >1,000 particles/s with high purity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1223-1231
Number of pages9
JournalBiomedical Microdevices
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


Acknowledgement The research is supported by the NIH grants 1R21RR024453-01 and 1R01HG004876. We would like to thank the Nano3 staff for their technical support.

FundersFunder number
National Institutes of Health1R21RR024453-01
National Human Genome Research InstituteR01HG004876


    • Flow cytometer
    • Hydrodynamics
    • Microfluidics
    • Piezoelectric actuation
    • Sorter


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