A mathematical model of dielectrophoretic data to connect measurements with cell properties

Shannon Huey Hilton, Mark Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Dielectrophoresis (DEP) brings about the high-resolution separations of cells and other bioparticles arising from very subtle differences in their properties. However, an unanticipated limitation has arisen: difficulty in assignment of specific biological features which vary between two cell populations. This hampers the ability to interpret the significance of the variations. To realize the opportunities made possible by dielectrophoresis, the data and the diversity of structures found in cells and bioparticles must be linked. While the crossover frequency in DEP has been studied in-depth and exploited in applications using AC fields, less attention has been given when a DC field is present. Here, a new mathematical model of dielectrophoretic data is introduced which connects the physical properties of cells to specific elements of the data from potential- or time-varied DEP experiments. The slope of the data in either analysis is related to the electrokinetic mobility, while the potential at which capture initiates in potential-based analysis is related to both the electrokinetic and dielectrophoretic mobilities. These mobilities can be assigned to cellular properties for which values appear in the literature. Representative examples of high and low values of properties such as conductivity, zeta potential, and surface charge density for bacteria including Streptococcus mutans, Rhodococcus erythropolis, Pasteurella multocida, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus are considered. While the many properties of a cell collapse into one or two features of data, for a well-vetted system the model can indicate the extent of dissimilarity. The influence of individual properties on the features of dielectrophoretic data is summarized, allowing for further interpretation of data. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAnalytical and bioanalytical chemistry
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Bacterial variations
  • Biophysical properties
  • Data modeling
  • Dielectrophoresis
  • Electrokinetic mobility
  • Electrophoresis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry


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