Dolomite microfluidic device allows study of cell properties

Using optical stretching on a single cell

In collaboration with the Cavendish Laboratory (Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge, UK), Dolomite, a UK manufacturer of microfluidic solutions, has designed a glass microfluidic device for a laser tool that allows the study of the mechanical properties of cells using optical stretching on a single cell.

Dolomite works with the Cavendish Laboratory to design a glass microfluidic device

The Royston, Hertfordshire-based firm says this device can be used to trap and deform individual biological cells, benefiting cancer diagnosis, stem cell analysis and cell sorting.

Working with Jochen Guck and his team at the Cavendish Laboratory, Dolomite developed a multi-layered glass microfluidic chip featuring three inlets. It integrates both fluidic and optical fibre channels, allowing the chip to be used as a two-beam laser optical trap for cell mechanical measurements.

One of the challenges was to ensure that the optical fibres were aligned to micron accuracy so that the two laser beams met in a micro-channel, allowing the cells to be captured.

After aligning, the fluid-borne cells are exposed to laser beams, which stretch them to probe their elasticity. Thus, cancerous cells, for example, can be detected as they are softer than healthy cells.