Alternating current electrokinetic separation and detection of DNA nanoparticles in high-conductance solutions

Rajaram Krishnan, Benjamin D. Sullivan, Robert L. Mifflin, Sadik C. Esener, Michael J. Heller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


In biomedical research and diagnostics, it is a significant challenge to directly isolate and identify rare cells and potential biomarkers in blood, plasma and other clinical samples. Additionally, the advent of bionanotechnology is leading to numerous drug delivery approaches that involve encapsulation of drugs and imaging agents within nanoparticles, which now will also have to be identified and separated from blood and plasma. Alternating current (AC) electrokinetic techniques such as dielectrophoresis (DEP) offer a particularly attractive mechanism for the separation of cells and nanoparticles. Unfortunately, present DEP techniques require the dilution of blood/plasma, thus making the technology less suitable for clinical sample preparation. Using array devices with microelectrodes over-coated with porous hydrogel layers, AC electric field conditions have been found which allow the separation of DNA nanoparticles to be achieved under high-conductance (ionic strength) conditions. At AC frequencies in the 3000 Hz to 10 000 Hz range and 10 volts peak-to-peak, the separation of 10-μm polystyrene particles into low field regions, and 60-nm DNA-derivatized nanoparticles and 200-nm nanoparticles into high-field regions was carried out in 149 mM 1x PBS buffer (1.68 S/m). These results may allow AC electro-kinetic systems to be developed that can be used with clinically relevant samples under physiological conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1765-1774
Number of pages10
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Alternating current electrokinetics
  • DNA
  • Dielectrophoresis
  • High-conductance solution
  • Nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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