Microfluidic In Situ Labelling On Stable Interfaces

Tech ID: 27244 / UC Case 2016-461-0

Brief Description

A microfluidic device that utilizes acoustic streaming (Lateral Cavity Acoustic Transducer LCAT) to pump, sort, visualize and trap cells based on size and user specified characteristics. This device can process whole blood, and separate the blood constituents by size as well as integrate biomarkers and fluorescent tags to develop a powerful tool for early detection and diagnosis of diseases such as cancer.

Suggested uses

  • Microfluidic Diagnostics (i.e. Cancer)
  • Identification, visualization and sorting of blood constituents
  • Lab on a chip-Point of Care Diagnostics


  • Enhanced Device Lifetime: Higher Stability of liquid-air interfaces increases the lifetime of the microfluidic device compared to state of the art LCAT systems 
  • Efficient: Affords In-Situ labeling and isolation of target constituents (i.e. Cancer Cells) without additional processing such as centrifugation and incubation, which requires specialized equipment and larger sample volumes

Technology Description

The field of microfluidics has become increasingly important to biomedical applications in recent years. One notable biomedical application is the “lab on a chip,” which allows for the integration of different laboratory components on a single device. One such component on a lab on a chip device is called a “lateral cavity acoustic transducer” (aka LCAT), which consists of a main fluid channel connected to numerous angled side channels along its length. Using a piezoelectric transducer, gas in the side channels can expand to create liquid-air interfaces at the junctions between the side channels and main channels. The sizes of these liquid air-interfaces can be controlled such that fluid flow in their vicinity results in vortices that separate and trap particles, such as blood constituents and cancer cells. A potential drawback to this technology, however, is the unreliable stability of the liquid-air interfaces.

UCI inventors have developed a method for creating stable liquid-air interfaces in LCAT devices where trapped particles can be sorted and identified through use of in situ fluorescent tagging. Additionally, the invention can process small volume sample sizes (microliters) and requires no additional processing steps (such as centrifugation), thus eliminating the need for additional equipment and training. As the invention enhances the stability of the liquid-air interfaces, it increases the overall lifetime of the device for trapping and classifying different types of particles. Stable, reliable interfaces like these may be valuable for early detection of malignancies, leading to better survival outcomes.


State Of Development


  • The protocol for interface stabilization has been developed
  • Fluid dynamics simulations have been developed
  • Trapping of 25 μm beads in whole blood at low concentrations has been demonstrated
  • In situ labeling of breast cancer cells will be attempted as the next step


Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 11,213,823 01/04/2022 2016-461


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