Manipulation of Self-Assembled Structures of Magnetic Beads for Microfluidic Mixing and Assaying
We present an original concept of manipulation of magnetic microbeads in a microchannel. It is based on the dynamic motion of a self-assembled structure of ferrimagnetic beads that are retained within a microfluidic flow using a local alternating magnetic field. The latter induces a rotational motion of the magnetic particles, thereby strongly enhancing the fluid perfusion through the magnetic structure that behaves as a dynamic random porous medium. The result is a very strong particle-liquid interaction that can be controlled by adjusting the magnetic field frequency and amplitude, as well as the liquid flow rate, and is at the basis of very efficient liquid mixing. The principle is demonstrated using a microfluidic chip made of poly(methyl methacrylate) with integrated soft ferromagnetic plate structures. The latter are part of an electromagnetic circuit and serve to locally apply a magnetic field over the section of the microchannel. Starting from a laminar flow pattern of parallel fluorescein dye and nonfluorescent liquid streams, we demonstrate a 95% mixing efficiency using a mixing length of only 400 m and at liquid flows of the order of 0.5 cm/s. We anticipate that the intense interaction between the fluid and magnetic particles with functionalized surfaces holds large potential for the development of future bead-based assays.