Continuous cell partitioning using an aqueous two-phase flow system in microfluidic devices



We present a novel microfluidic system in which an aqueous two-phase laminar flow is stably formed, and the continuous partitioning of relatively large cells can be performed, eliminating the influence of gravity. In this study, plant cell aggregates whose diameters were 37–96 μm were used as model particles. We first performed cell partitioning using a simple straight microchannel having two inlets and two outlets and examined the effects of the flow rate and the phase width on partitioning efficiency. Second, by using a microchannel with a pinched segment, the partitioning efficiency was successfully improved. This microscale aqueous two-phase flow system can further be incorporated into micro total analysis systems (μTAS) or lab-on-a-chip technology, owing to its simplicity, applicability, and biocompatibility. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.