Alternating current (AC) dielectrophoresis (DEP) experiments for biological particles in microdevices are typically done at a fixed frequency. Reconstructing the DEP response curve from static frequency experiments is laborious, but essential to ascertain differences in dielectric properties of biological particles. Our lab explored the concept of sweeping the frequency as a function of time to rapidly determine the DEP response curve from fewer experiments. For the purpose of determining an ideal sweep rate, homogeneous 6.08 μm polystyrene (PS) beads were used as a model system. Translatability of the sweep rate approach to ∼7 μm red blood cells (RBC) was then verified. An Au/Ti quadrapole electrode microfluidic device was used to separately subject particles and cells to 10Vpp AC electric fields at frequencies ranging from 0.010 to 2.0 MHz over sweep rates from 0.00080 to 0.17 MHz/s. PS beads exhibited negative DEP assembly over the frequencies explored due to Maxwell-Wagner interfacial polarizations. Results demonstrate that frequency sweep rates must be slower than particle polarization timescales to achieve reliable incremental polarizations; sweep rates near 0.00080 MHz/s yielded DEP behaviors very consistent with static frequency DEP responses for both PS beads and RBCs.

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