A microfluidic chip is proposed to separate microparticles using cross-flow filtration enhanced with hydrodynamic focusing. By exploiting a buffer flow from the side, the microparticles in the sample flow are pushed on one side of the microchannels, lining up to pass through the filters. Meanwhile a larger pressure gradient in the filters is obtained to enhance separation efficiency. Compared with the traditional cross-flow filtration, our proposed mechanism has the buffer flow to create a moving virtual boundary for the sample flow to actively push all the particles to reach the filters for separation. It further allows higher flow rates. The device only requires soft lithograph fabrication to create microchannels and a novel pressurized bonding technique to make high-aspect-ratio filtration structures. A mixture of polystyrene microparticles with 2.7 μm and 10.6 μm diameters are successfully separated. 96.2 ± 2.8% of the large particle are recovered with a purity of 97.9 ± 0.5%, while 97.5 ± 0.4% of the small particle are depleted with a purity of 99.2 ± 0.4% at a sample throughput of 10 μl/min. The experiment is also conducted to show the feasibility of this mechanism to separate biological cells with the sample solutions of spiked PC3 cells in whole blood. By virtue of its high separation efficiency, our device offers a label-free separation technique and potential integration with other components, thereby serving as a promising tool for continuous cell filtration and analysis applications.

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