Inertial manipulation and transfer of microparticles across laminar fluid streams.
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Small 8 (17): 2757--2764 (September 2012)

A general strategy for controlling particle movement across streams would enable new capabilities in single-cell analysis, solid-phase reaction control, and biophysics research. Transferring cells across streams is difficult to achieve in a well-controlled manner, since it requires precise control of fluid flow along with external force fields or precisely manufactured mechanical structures. Herein a strategy is introduced for particle transfer based on passive inertial lift forces and shifts in the distribution of these forces for channels with shifting aspect ratios. Uniquely, use of the dominant wall-effect lift parallel to the particle rotation direction is explored and utilized to achieve controllable cross-stream motion. In this way, particles are positioned to migrate across laminar streams and enter a new solution without significant disturbance of the interface at rates exceeding 1000 particles per second and sub-millisecond transfer times. The capabilities of rapid inertial solution exchange (RInSE) for preparation of hematological samples and other cellular assays are demonstrated. Lastly, improvements to inline flow cytometry after RInSE of excess fluorescent dye and focusing for downstream analysis are characterized. The described approach is simply applied to manipulating cells and particles and quickly exposing them to or removing them from a reacting solution, with broader applications in control and analysis of low affinity interactions on cells or particles.
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