Characterization of a novel impedance cytometer design and its integration with lateral focusing by dielectrophoresis
This paper reports a novel impedance cytometer design, easily integrable with dielectrophoretic focusing using a simple fabrication process with a single metal layer. Patterning of electrodes recessed in lateral channels – so-called “liquid electrodes” – allows the use of large electrodes while keeping a good spatial resolution. This larger area allows measurements at low frequencies, down to 1 kHz. It also decreases the current density, leading to electrodes more robust against electrochemical degradation. The relative change in impedance is simulated and compared to values reported in the literature for traditional designs, showing a smaller sensitivity for the proposed design due to the larger measurement volume. The device is evaluated with specific target applications, such as viability measurement and high-speed cell counting. Numerical simulations indicate that the proposed design reduces the dependence of the measurement on the vertical position of the particle compared to conventional designs, with a variation of only 5%, but is still dependent on its lateral position. This dependence is studied using focusing by dielectrophoresis (DEP) at different lateral positions across the microchannel, showing a larger sensitivity when the particles are close to the measurement electrodes, as confirmed by the numerical simulations. The integration of lateral dielectrophoresis to focus particles in the middle of the channel reduces the variation of the measurements to very small values, with a coefficient of variation of 5.6%, and allows precise particle sizing. Such a design can be very powerful to simplify the fabrication process of impedance cytometers and enables the production of cost-effective, possibly disposable devices.