Resolving the heterogeneity of particle populations by size is important when the particle size is a signature of abnormal biological properties leading to disease. Accessing size heterogeneity in the sub-micrometer regime is particularly important to resolve populations of subcellular species or diagnostically relevant bioparticles. Here, we demonstrate a ratchet migration mechanism capable of separating sub-micrometer sized species by size and apply it to biological particles. The phenomenon is based on a deterministic ratchet effect, is realized in a microfluidic device, and exhibits fast migration allowing separation in tens of seconds. We characterize this phenomenon extensively with the aid of a numerical model allowing one to predict the speed and resolution of this method. We further demonstrate the deterministic ratchet migration with two sub-micrometer sized beads as model system experimentally as well as size-heterogeneous mouse liver mitochondria and liposomes as model system for other organelles. We demonstrate excellent agreement between experimentally observed migration and the numerical model.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Dr. Fernanda Camacho-Alanis from the School of Molecular Sciences (formerly the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department) at Arizona State University for her help with SEM imaging. E.A.A. acknowledges funding from NIH grant R01AG020866 to prepare biological samples.
© 2018 American Chemical Society.