Sparse Sample Detection Using Magnetic Bead Manipulation on a Digital Microfluidic Device

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Fair, Richard B

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This thesis demonstrates a new way to achieve sparse biological sample detection, which uses magnetic bead manipulation on a digital microfluidic device. Sparse sample detection was made possible through two steps: sparse sample capture and fluorescent signal detection. For the first step, the immunological reaction between antibody and antigen enables the binding between target cells and antibody-­‐‑ coated magnetic beads, hence achieving sample capture. For the second step, fluorescent detection is achieved via fluorescent signal measurement and magnetic bead manipulation. In those two steps, a total of three functions need to work together, namely magnetic beads manipulation, fluorescent signal measurement and immunological binding. The first function is magnetic bead manipulation, and it uses the structure of current-­‐‑carrying wires embedded in the actuation electrode of an electrowetting-­‐‑on-­‐‑dielectric (EWD) device. The current wire structure serves as a microelectromagnet, which is capable of segregating and separating magnetic beads. The device can achieve high segregation efficiency when the wire spacing is 50µμm, and it is also capable of separating two kinds of magnetic beads within a 65µμm distance. The device ensures that the magnetic bead manipulation and the EWD function can be operated simultaneously without introducing additional steps in the fabrication process. Half circle shaped current wires were designed in later devices to concentrate magnetic beads in order to increase the SNR of sample detection. The second function is immunological binding. Immunological reaction kits were selected in order to ensure the compatibility of target cells, magnetic bead function and EWD function. The magnetic bead choice ensures the binding efficiency and survivability of target cells. The magnetic bead selection and binding mechanism used in this work can be applied to a wide variety of samples with a simple switch of the type of antibody. The last function is fluorescent measurement. Fluorescent measurement of sparse samples is made possible of using fluorescent stains and a method to increase SNR. The improved SNR is achieved by target cell concentration and reduced sensing area. Theoretical limitations of the entire sparse sample detection system is as low as 1 Colony Forming Unit/mL (CFU/mL).





CHEN, LIJI (2016). Sparse Sample Detection Using Magnetic Bead Manipulation on a Digital Microfluidic Device. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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