Electric field directed assembly of high-density microbead arrays

Kristopher D. Barbee, Alexander P. Hsiao, Michael J. Heller, Xiaohua Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


We report a method for rapid, electric field directed assembly of high-density protein-conjugated microbead arrays. Photolithography is used to fabricate an array of micron to sub-micron-scale wells in an epoxy-based photoresist on a silicon wafer coated with a thin gold film, which serves as the primary electrode. A thin gasket is used to form a microfluidic chamber between the wafer and a glass coverslip coated with indium-tin oxide, which serves as the counter electrode. Streptavidin-conjugated microbeads suspended in a low conductance buffer are introduced into the chamber and directed into the wells via electrophoresis by applying a series of low voltage electrical pulses across the electrodes. Hundreds of millions of microbeads can be permanently assembled on these arrays in as little as 30 seconds and the process can be monitored in real time using epifluorescence microscopy. The binding of the microbeads to the gold film is robust and occurs through electrochemically induced gold-protein interactions, which allows excess beads to be washed away or recycled. The well and bead sizes are chosen such that only one bead can be captured in each well. Filling efficiencies greater than 99.9% have been demonstrated across wafer-scale arrays with densities as high as 69 million beads per cm 2. Potential applications for this technology include the assembly of DNA arrays for high-throughput genome sequencing and antibody arrays for proteomic studies. Following array assembly, this device may also be used to enhance the concentration-dependent processes of various assays through the accelerated transport of molecules using electric fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3268-3274
Number of pages7
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number22
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering


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