Tunable, Sheathless, and Three Dimensional Single-Stream Cell Focusing in High Speed Flows

Tech ID: 30473 / UC Case 2016-485-0


UCLA researchers in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering have developed a tunable, sheathless, and three dimensional single-stream cell focusing in high speed flows. This new mechanism can be used for real-time focusing in flow cytometers and high-throughput cell sorting.


Cells and microparticles flow at different speeds in different streamlines in microfluidic channels. The ability to three-dimensionally focus randomly distributed cells and microparticles into a single-stream is a critical function needed in numerous microfluidic applications such as flow cytometry, cell sorting, and imaging.


The inventors have reported a novel dielectrophoretic (DEP) mechanism for tunable, sheathless, three-dimensional, and single-stream microparticle and cell focusing in high-speed flows. It is realized by fabricating a 3D microfluidic device with two glass substrates sandwiching a thin and open PDMS channel. Electrodes are laid out to provide DEP forces completely perpendicular to hydrodynamic flows along the entire channel. This new approach provides, for the first time, real-time 3D tuning of focusing locations by simply changing voltage combinations applied to the electrodes.


  • 3D single stream focusing for flow cytometers
  • High-throughput dielectrophoresis-based cell sorting in physiological buffers
  • High purity and high resolution sorting of particles and cells


  • Sheathless
  • High precision, size-independent focusing
  • Real-time 3D tuning of the focusing location
  • Flow decoupled
  • Fast speed, high throughput

Related Materials

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Published Application 20170291172 10/12/2017 2016-485


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  • Chiou, Pei Yu E.

Other Information


focusing, cell sorting, flow cytometer, sheath fluid

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