Transitioning streaming to trapping in DC insulator-based dielectrophoresis for biomolecules

Fernanda Camacho-Alanis, Lin Gan, Alexandra Ros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Exploiting dielectrophoresis (DEP) to concentrate and separate biomolecules has recently shown large potential as a microscale bioanalytical tool. Such efforts however require tailored devices and knowledge of all interplaying transport mechanisms competing with dielectrophoresis (DEP). Specifically, a strong DEP contribution to the overall transport mechanism is necessary to exploit DEP of biomolecules for analytical applications such as separation and fractionation. Here, we present improved microfluidic devices combining optical lithography and focused ion beam milling (FIBM) for the manipulation of DNA and proteins using insulator-based dielectrophoresis (iDEP) and direct current (DC) electric fields. Experiments were performed on an elastomer platform forming the iDEP microfluidic device with integrated nanoposts and nanopost arrays. Microscale and nanoscale iDEP was studied for λ-DNA (48.5 kbp) and the protein bovine serum albumin (BSA). Numerical simulations were adapted to the various tested geometries revealing excellent qualitative agreement with experimental observations for streaming and trapping DEP. Both the experimental and simulation results indicate that DC iDEP trapping for λ-DNA occurs with tailored nanoposts fabricated via FIBM. Moreover, streaming iDEP concentration of BSA is improved with integrated nanopost arrays by a factor of 45 compared to microfabricated arrays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)668-675
Number of pages8
JournalSensors and Actuators, B: Chemical
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • DNA
  • Dielectrophoresis
  • Numerical simulation
  • Protein
  • Trapping condition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Instrumentation
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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