Thursday, August 4, 2016

Optical Manipulation of Single Magnetic Beads in a Microwell Array on a Digital Microfluidic Chip

Deborah Decrop, Toon Brans, Pieter Gijsenbergh, Jiadi Lu, Dragana Spasic, Tadej Kokalj, Filip Beunis, Peter Goos, Robert Puers, and Jeroen Lammertyn

The detection of single molecules in magnetic microbead microwell array formats revolutionized the development of digital bio-assays. However, retrieval of individual magnetic beads from these arrays has not been realized until now despite having great potential for studying captured targets at the individual level. In this paper, optical tweezers were implemented on a digital microfluidic platform for accurate manipulation of single magnetic beads seeded in a microwell array. Successful optical trapping of magnetic beads was found to be dependent on Brownian motion of the beads, suggesting a 99% chance of trapping a vibrating bead. A tailor-made experimental design was used to screen the effect of bead type, ionic buffer strength, surfactant type and concentration on the Brownian activity of beads in microwells. Using the optimal conditions the manipulation of magnetic beads was demonstrated by their trapping, retrieving, transporting and repositioning to a desired microwell on the array. The presented platform combines the strengths of digital microfluidics, digital bioassays and optical tweezers, resulting in a powerful dynamic microwell array system for single molecule and single cell studies.

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