Simple Approach to Reducing Particle Trapping Voltage in Insulator-Based Dielectrophoretic Systems
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© 2018 American Chemical Society. Insulator-based dielectrophoresis (iDEP) is a microfluidic technique used for particle analysis in a wide array of applications. Significant efforts are dedicated to improve iDEP systems by reducing voltage requirements. This study assesses how the performance of an iDEP system, in terms of particle trapping, depends on the number of insulating obstacles longitudinally present in the microchannel. In analogy with Kirchhoff's loop rule, iDEP systems were analyzed as a series combination of electrical resistances, where the equivalent resistance of the post array is composed by a number of individual resistors (columns of insulating posts). It was predicted by the COMSOL model, and later confirmed by experimental results, that reducing the number of columns of insulating posts significantly affects the electric field distribution, decreasing the required voltage to dielectrophoretically trap particles within the post array. As an application, it was demonstrated that decreasing the number of columns in the post array allows for the dielectrophoretic trapping of nanometer-scale particles at voltages well below those reported in previous similar iDEP systems. These findings illustrate how the iDEP channel configuration can be customized for specific applications.