AC electrokinetics is a generic term that refers to an induced motion of particles and fluids under nonuniform AC electric fields. The AC electric fields are formed by application of AC voltages to microelectrodes, which can be easily integrated into microfluidic devices by standard microfabrication techniques. Moreover, the magnitude of the motion is large enough to control the mass transfer on the devices. These advantages are attractive for biomolecular analysis on the microfluidic devices, in which the characteristics of small space and microfluidics have been mainly employed. In this review, I describe recent applications of AC electrokinetics in biomolecular analysis on microfluidic devices. The applications include fluid pumping and mixing by AC electrokinetic flow, and manipulation of biomolecules such as DNA and proteins by various AC electrokinetic techniques. Future prospects for highly functional biomolecular analysis on microfluidic devices with the aid of AC electrokinetics are also discussed.
We investigated the shape of the liquid–liquid interface in micro counter-current flows formed within microchannels. The pressure balance at the interface was calculated based on the interface geometry. Although the shape should be an arc under laminar flow, a large deformation near the center of the microchannel was observed. In the center of the microchannel, Laplace pressure (171 – 450 Pa) was induced toward the aqueous phase. In contrast, near both sidewalls, Laplace pressure (81 – 166 Pa) was induced toward the organic phase. This result suggests that opposing flow occurs in the adjacent phases near the interface, with spiral-like flow generation.
A hybridized nanocrystalline carbon film electrode consisting of sp2 and sp3 bonds was investigated to reveal the reduction properties of Cd2+ and for application as a highly sensitive and reliable electrochemical immunoassay. Conductive nanocrystalline carbon film consisting of about 60% sp2 and 40% sp3 bonds was fabricated using electron cyclotron resonance (ECR) sputtering equipment, and then the Cd2+ concentrations were measured with an ECR sputtered carbon (ECR nano-carbon) electrode by employing an anodic stripping voltammetry (ASV) technique. The preconcentrated Cd was analyzed with Kelvin probe force microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy while observing the morphology change with an atomic force microscope and a scanning electron microscope. The preconcentrated Cd on the ECR nano-carbon electrode was revealed to be a thin sheet structure, which was significantly different from the Cd on a conventional carbon material that grows with a coralloid structure. The background current during an ASV measurement maintains a low level equivalent to that found with boron-doped diamond because the surface of the ECR nano-carbon is robust and angstrom-level flat. The carbon-electrode performance for ASV was improved by controlling its structure at a nanometer scale without any metal doping or coating. Finally, the ECR nano-carbon was used for biomolecular determination by electrochemical immunoassay with a CdSe nanoparticle label. Electrochemical immunoassay results were successfully obtained with the ECR nano-carbon, and they correlated well with fluorescence results obtained for CdSe nanoparticles.
A sensitive dual immunoassay was proposed for the determination of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and α-fetoprotein (AFP) based on signal amplification. Monoclonal antibodies immobilized on magnetic mesoporous silica particles (Fe3O4/SiO2) were prepared as the primary probe. Horseradish peroxidase (HRP) labeled antibodies co-coated with HRP on gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) were used as the secondary probe to achieve signal amplification. HRP tags were retained in the flow cells after a sandwich immunoassay. By controlling two switches on the two channels, chemiluminescent substrates were injected orderly man way, and then signals for CEA and AFP were sequentially detected by HRP-luminol-H2O2. Due to the increased amount of HRP on AuNPs and the increased amount of monoclonal antibodies on Fe3O4/SiO2, the signals were largely amplified. Under the optimal conditions, CEA and AFP could be detected in the linear ranges of 1.0 – 80 and 1.0 – 75 ng mL−1 with detection limits of 0.25 and 0.5 ng mL−1, respectively.
We present a novel method for the separation of progressive motile sperm from non-progressive motile and immotile sperm. This separation was accomplished by inducing chemotaxis along a longitudinal chemical gradient in a microchip composed of a biocompatible polydimethysiloxane layer and a glass substrate. In a preliminary experiment using fluorescent rhodamine B as a marker, we verified that a chemical gradient was generated by diffusion within the microchannel. We used acetylcholine as a chemoattractant to evaluate the chemotactic response of sperm. We tested the response to a 1/2 to 1/64 dilution series of acetylcholine. The results of a mouse sperm chemotaxis assay showed that progressive motile sperm swam predominantly toward the outlet at an optimal chemical gradient of 0.625 (mg/ml)/mm of acetylcholine. This device provides a convenient, disposable, and high-throughput platform that could function as a progressive motile sperm sorter for potential use in intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
A centrifugal microfluidic platform, which is also known as lab-on-a-compact-disc (Lab-CD), was developed for use as a urinary N-acetyl-β-D-glucosaminidase (NAG) activity assay. In this work, Lab-CD design, centrifugal operations and analytical procedures were established. Automated liquid handling on Lab-CD processes, such as fluid transport, sample metering, mixing, and fluorescence detection are accomplished using a portable Lab-CD system. The linearity of the NAG assay using 4-methylumbelliferyl-N-acetyl-β-D-glucosaminide (4-MU-GlcNAc) was found to be acceptable in the range of 2.5 to 20 U L−1; the relative standard deviations for the fluorescence intensity of eight samples (7.5 U L−1) was 6.4%. Clinical diagnostics is one of the most promising applications for Lab-CD technologies. All the benefits of miniaturization, such as reduced sample requirement, reduced reagent consumption and automation, are realized in this investigation.
This paper presents a simple method to change the hydrophilic nature of the glass surface in a poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS)-glass hybrid microfluidic device to hydrophobic by an extra-heating step during the fabrication process. Glass substrates bonded to a native or oxygen plasma-treated PDMS chip having microchambers (12.5 mm diameter, 110 μm height) were heated at 200°C for 3 h, and then the hydrophobicity of the glass surfaces on the substrate was evaluated by measuring the contact angle of water. By the extra-heating process, the glass surfaces became hydrophobic, and its contact angle was around 109°, which is nearly the same as native PDMS surfaces. To demonstrate the usefulness of this surface modification method, a PDMS-glass hybrid microfluidic device equipped with microcapillary vent structures for pneumatic manipulation of droplets was fabricated. The feasibility of the microcapillary vent structures on the device with the hydrophobic glass surfaces are confirmed in practical use through leakage tests of the vent structures and liquid handling for the electrophoretic separation of DNA molecules.
Ion transport from one aqueous phase (W1) to another (W2) across a planar bilayer lipid membrane (BLM) in the presence of inhalation anesthetics was electrochemically investigated. In the absence of inhalation anesthetics in the BLM system, no ion transport current flowed between W1 and W2 across the BLM. When inhalation anesthetics such as halothane, chloroform, diethyl ether and trichloroethylene were added to the two aqueous phases or the BLM, the ion transport current quite clearly appeared. When the ratio of the concentration of KCl or NaCl in W1 to that in W2 was varied, the zero current potential across the BLM was shifted. By considering the magnitude of the potential shift, we concluded that the ion transport current can be predominantly ascribed to the transport of Cl− across the BLM. Since the dielectric constants of these anesthetics are larger than that of the inner hydrophobic domain of the BLM, the concentration of hydrophilic electrolyte ions in the BLM increases with the increase in the dielectric constant of the inner hydrophobic domain caused by addition of these anesthetics. These situations lead to an increase in the ion permeability coefficient.
To simplify the complicated operation steps and to minimize sample and reagent amounts for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), we developed a square glass capillary immunosensor containing both covalently immobilized capture antibodies and physically adsorbed enzyme-linked antibodies. The immobilization of capture antibodies (anti-human IgG) was carried out by the treatment of 3-aminopropyltriethoxy silane, glutaraldehyde, and protein-A, followed by affinity capture of the antibody. In contrast, the enzyme-linked antibodies (alkaline phosphatase (ALP)-linked anti-human IgG) were physically adsorbed on the four corners of the capillary with the aid of polyethylene glycol (PEG) acting as a scaffold. A nanoliter volume of antigen (human IgG)-containing sample solution was introduced via capillary action. This addition resulted in the release and diffusion of ALP-linked anti-human IgG into the bulk solution. This event led to a 20-min single-step sandwich immunoreaction at the inner wall of capillary; the reaction was detected through the reaction with fluorescein diphosphate (FDP) which generated a fluorescent product, fluorescein. Using this technique, we obtained an intra-capillary precision with a coefficient of variation of 9.7%. In addition, the specificity study showed that the human IgG capillary immunosensor did not respond to rabbit IgG. Quantitative analysis was possible within the response range of 10 – 5000 ng mL−1 anti-human IgG. This capillary immunosensor can act as a single analytical unit or can be integrated into a capillary array for multiple bioanalysis.
We developed a confocal microscopic method for a quantitative evaluation of the mixing performance of a three-dimensional microfluidic mixer. We fabricated a microfluidic baker’s transformation (MBT) mixer as a three-dimensional passive-type mixer for the efficient mixing of solutions. Although the MBT mixer is one type of ideal mixers, it is hard to evaluate its mixing performance, since the MBT mixer is based on several cycles of complicated three-dimensional microchannel structures. We applied the method developed here to evaluate the mixing of water and a fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC; diffusion coefficient, 4.9 × 10−10 m2 s−1) solution by the MBT mixer. This method enables us to capture vertical section images for the fluid distributions of FITC and water at different three-dimensional microchannel structures of the MBT device. These images are in good agreement with those of mixing images based on numerical simulations. The mixing ratio could be calculated by the fluorescence intensity at each pixel of the vertical section image; complete mixing is recognized by a mixing ratio of more than 90%. The mixing ratios are measured at different cycles of the MBT mixer by changing the flow rate; the mixing performance is evaluated by comparisons with the mixing ratio of the straight microchannel without the MBT mixer.
Recently, efforts have been made to reduce the size of food particles containing functional ingredients, since reducing the size is expected to improve intestinal absorption. However, the absorption mechanisms have yet to be fully clarified. Therefore, a microscopy-based method for studying interactions between the particles and intestinal cells is required. We optimized the experimental conditions for observing gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) on the surface of an unfixed Caco-2 cell using dark-field microscopy (DFM). Tight junctions were clearly visible with AuNPs on the cells, producing intense scattered light under DFM. This suggests that AuNPs could be used as localization markers to visualize particle absorption through Caco-2 cells.
We describe the technical aspects of the in-situ X-ray diffraction of a protein crystal prepared by a nanodroplet-based crystallization method. We were able to obtain diffraction patterns from a crystal grown in a capillary without any manipulation. Especially in our experimental approach, the crystals that moved to the nanodroplet interface were fixed strongly enough to carry out X-ray diffraction measurements that could be attributed to the high surface tension of the nanodroplet. The crystal was damaged by an indirect action of the X-rays because our in-situ X-ray diffraction measurement was carried out in the liquid phase without freezing the crystal; however, the obtained several diffraction patterns were of sufficiently fine quality for the crystal structure factors to be generated. We consider the technical examination presented in this paper to represent a seamless coupling of crystallization to X-ray analysis.
A microfluidic device with analytical chambers for electrochemical measurements has been employed to detect photosynthetic activity at single cell level. The flowing cells (Microcystis viridis) in a main channel are individually guided to the chamber with microelectrodes by an electrophoretic manipulation. The reduction current of oxygen was continuously monitored to determine the photosynthetic activity upon light irradiation. The average rates for oxygen generation were estimated and found to be 10−18 mol/s level.
We developed a rapid method for estimating the amyloid beta (Aβ)-conformation state related with Alzheimer’s disease. We prepared gold nanoparticle (AuNP)-Aβ antibody conjugates treated with bovine serum albumin to stabilize their dispersibility in a buffer. The prepared AuNPs were precipitated in the presence of Aβ aggregates, such as oligomers and fibrils. Aβ monomers did not precipitate AuNPs. The formation of AuNP precipitates by Aβ aggregates could be confirmed by the naked eye within 1 h.
The paramagnetic microbead-based electrochemical binding assay was demonstrated for detecting two kinds of protein simultaneously. The principle of this assay is based on the sequestration electrochemistry. The protein binding electroactive magnetic microbeads which are conjugated with an electroactive compound and a ligand to bind specifically with a target protein were prepared. The avidin-biotin and soybean agglutinin (SBA)-galactosamine were chosen as model protein-ligand systems. The avidin binding electroactive magnetic microbead (ABEMMb) and SBA binding electroactive magnetic microbead (SBEMMb) are constructed by biotin/thionine and galactosamine/ferrocene modified on paramagnetic microbeads. The voltammetric response for these functionalized microbeads was measured by the Nd-Fe-B magnet-incorporating carbon paste rotating disk electrode. The measurements were performed in a microliter droplet using a rotating disk electrode system. Avidin and SBA were simultaneously detected by the decrease in the current responses from the reduction of ABEMMb and SBEMMb that was caused by the binding with target proteins. The limits of detection for avidin and SBA were 4 × 10−10 and 2 × 10−10 M, respectively.