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Hypersound-Assisted Size Sorting of Microparticles on Inkjet-Patterned Protein Films

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Abstract

Hydrodynamic approaches are important for biomedical diagnostics, chemical analysis, and a broad range of industrial applications. Size-based separation and sorting is an important tool for these applications. We report the integration of hypersound technology with patterned protein films to provide efficient sorting of microparticles based on particle charge and size. We employed a hypersonic resonator for the acoustic streaming of the fluidic system to generate microvortices that exert drag forces on the objects on the surface that are dictated by their radius of curvature. We demonstrate a size-based sorting of anionic silica particles using protein patterns and gradients fabricated using attractive cationic and repulsive anionic proteins.

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Isotropic microparticles prepared from a suspension that undergoes polymerization have long been used for a variety of applications. Bulk emulsification procedures produce polydisperse emulsion drops that are transformed into spherical microparticles through chemical or physical consolidation. Recent advances in droplet microfluidics have enabled the production of monodisperse emulsions that yield highly uniform microparticles, albeit only on a drop-by-drop basis. In addition, microfluidic devices have provided a variety of means for particle functionalization through shaping, compartmentalizing, and microstructuring. These functionalized particles have significant potential for practical applications as a new class of colloidal materials. This feature article describes the current state of the art in the microfluidic-based synthesis of monodisperse functional microparticles. The three main sections of this paper discuss the formation of isotropic microparticles, engineered microparticles, and hybrid microparticles. The complexities of the shape, compartment, and microstructure of these microparticles increase systematically from the isotropic to the hybrid types. Each section discusses the key idea underlying the design of the particles, their functionalities, and their applications. Finally, we outline the current limitations and future perspectives on microfluidic techniques for producing microparticles.
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A blood-based, low cost alternative to radiation intensive CT and PET imaging is critically needed for cancer prognosis and management of its treatment. "Liquid biopsies" of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from a relatively non-invasive blood draw are particularly ideal, as they can be repeated regularly to provide up to date molecular information about the cancer, which would also open up key opportunities for personalized therapies. Beyond solely diagnostic applications, CTCs are also a subject of interest for drug development and cancer research. In this paper, we adapt a technology previously introduced, combining the use of micro-scale vortices and inertial focusing, specifically for the high-purity extraction of CTCs from blood samples. First, we systematically varied parameters including channel dimensions and flow rates to arrive at an optimal device for maximum trapping efficiency and purity. Second, we validated the final device for capture of cancer cell lines in blood, considering several factors, including the effect of blood dilution, red blood cell lysis and cell deformability, while demonstrating cell viability and independence on EpCAM expression. Finally, as a proof-of-concept, CTCs were successfully extracted and enumerated from the blood of patients with breast (N = 4, 25-51 CTCs per 7.5 mL) and lung cancer (N = 8, 23-317 CTCs per 7.5 mL). Importantly, samples were highly pure with limited leukocyte contamination (purity 57-94%). This Vortex approach offers significant advantages over existing technologies, especially in terms of processing time (20 min for 7.5 mL of whole blood), sample concentration (collecting cells in a small volume down to 300 μL), applicability to various cancer types, cell integrity and purity. We anticipate that its simplicity will aid widespread adoption by clinicians and biologists who desire to not only enumerate CTCs, but also uncover new CTC biology, such as unique gene mutations, vesicle secretion and roles in metastatic processes.
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Flow field flow fractionation (F4) is an invaluable separation tool for large analytes, including nanoparticles and biomolecule complexes. However, sample loss due to analyte-channel membrane interaction limits extensive usage of F4 at present, which could be strongly affected by the carrier fluid composition. This work studied the impacts of carrier fluid (CF) composition on nanoparticle (NP) recovery in F4, with focus on high ionic strength conditions. Successful analysis of NPs in a biomolecules-friendly environment could expand the applicability of F4 to the developing field of nanobiotechnology. Recovery of the unfunctionalized polystyrene NPs of 199, 102, and 45nm in CFs with various pH (6.2, 7.4 and 8.2), increasing ionic strength (0-0.1M), and different types of co- and counter-ions, were investigated. Additionally, elution of the 85nm carboxylate NPs and two proteins, human serum albumin (HSA) and immunoglobulin (IgG), at high ionic strengths (0-0.15M) was investigated. Our results suggested that (1) electrostatic repulsion between the negatively charged NPs and the regenerated cellulose membrane was the main force to avoid particle adsorption on the membrane; (2) larger particles experienced higher attractive force and thus were influenced more by variation in CF composition; and (3) buffers containing weak anions or NPs with weak anion as the surface functional groups provided higher tolerance to the increase in ionic strength, owing to more anions being trapped inside the NP porous structure. Protein adsorption onto the membrane was also briefly investigated in salted CFs, using HSA and IgG. We believe our findings could help to identify the basic carrier fluid composition for higher sample recovery in F4 analysis of nanoparticles in a protein-friendly environment, which will be useful for applying F4 in bioassays and in nanotoxicology studies.
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The dynamic adhesion behavior of micrometer-scale silica particles is investigated numerically for a low Reynolds number shear flow over a planar collecting wall with randomly distributed electrostatic heterogeneity at the 10-nanometer scale. The hydrodynamic forces and torques on a particle are coupled to spatially varying colloidal interactions between the particle and wall. Contact and frictional forces are included in the force and torque balances to capture particle skipping, rolling, and arrest. These dynamic adhesion signatures are consistent with experimental results and are reminiscent of motion signatures observed in cell adhesion under flowing conditions, although for the synthetic system the particle-wall interactions are controlled by colloidal forces rather than physical bonds between cells and a functionalized surface. As the fraction of the surface (Theta) covered by the cationic patches is increased from zero, particle behavior sequentially transitions from no contact with the surface to skipping, rolling, and arrest, with the threshold patch density for adhesion (Theta(crit)) always greater than zero and in quantitative agreement with experimental results. The ionic strength of the flowing solution determines the extent of the electrostatic interactions and can be used to tune selectively the dynamic adhesion behavior by modulating two competing effects. The extent of electrostatic interactions in the plane of the wall, or electrostatic zone of influence, governs the importance of spatial fluctuations in the cationic patch density and thus determines if flowing particles contact the wall. The distance these interactions extend into solution normal to the wall determines the strength of the particle-wall attraction, which governs the transition from skipping and rolling to arrest. The influence of Theta, particle size, Debye length, and shear rate is quantified through the construction of adhesion regime diagrams, which delineate the regions in parameter space that give rise to different dynamic adhesion signatures and illustrate selective adhesion based on particle size or curvature. The results of this study are suggestive of novel ways to control particle-wall interactions using randomly distributed surface heterogeneity.