skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on November 8, 2024

Title: Measuring the electrophoretic mobility and size of single particles using microfluidic transverse AC electrophoresis (TrACE)
The ability to measure the charge and size of single particles is essential to understanding particle adhesion and interaction with their environment. Characterizing the physical properties of biological particles, like cells, can be a powerful tool in studying the association between the changes in physical properties and disease development. Currently, measuring charge via the electrophoretic mobility (μep) of individual particles remains challenging, and there is only one prior report of simultaneously measuring μep and size. We introduce microfluidic transverse AC electrophoresis (TrACE), a novel technique that combines particle tracking velocimetry (PTV) and AC electrophoresis. In TrACE, electric waves with 0.75 to 1.5 V amplitude are applied transversely to the bulk flow and cause the particles to oscillate. PTV records the particles' oscillating trajectories as pressure drives bulk flow through the microchannel. A simple quasi-equilibrium model agrees well with experimental measurements of frequency, amplitude, and phase, indicating that particle motion is largely described by DC electrophoresis. The measured μep of polystyrene particles (0.53, 0.84, 1, and 2 μm diameter) are consistent with ELS measurements, and precision is enhanced by averaging ∼100 measurements per particle. Particle size is simultaneously measured from Brownian motion quantified from the trajectory for particles <2 μm or image analysis for particles ≥2 μm. Lastly, the ability to analyze intact mammalian cells is demonstrated with B cells. TrACE systems are expected to be highly suitable as fieldable tools to measure the μep and size of a broad range of individual particles.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Wheeler, Aaron
Publisher / Repository:
Royal Society of Chemistry
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Lab on a Chip
Subject(s) / Keyword(s):
["Microfluidics","transverse AC electrophoresis","single particle characterization","electrophoretic mobility","particle size","Brownian motion","alternating current","square wave","sine wave","mammalian cells."]
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Multiple particle tracking microrheology (MPT) is a powerful tool for quantitatively characterizing rheological properties of soft matter. Traditionally, MPT uses a single particle size to characterize rheological properties. But in complex systems, MPT measurements with a single size particle can characterize distinct properties that are linked to the materials' length scale dependent structure. By varying the size of probes, MPT can measure the properties associated with different length scales within a material. We develop a technique to simultaneously track a bi-disperse population of probe particles. 0.5 and 2 μm particles are embedded in the same sample and these particle populations are tracked separately using a brightness-based squared radius of gyration, R g 2 . Bi-disperse MPT is validated by measuring the viscosity of glycerol samples at varying concentrations. Bi-disperse MPT measurements agree well with literature values. This technique then characterizes a homogeneous poly(ethylene glycol)-acrylate:poly(ethylene glycol)-dithiol gelation. The critical relaxation exponent and critical gelation time are consistent and agree with previous measurements using a single particle. Finally, degradation of a heterogeneous hydrogenated castor oil colloidal gel is characterized. The two particle sizes measure a different value of the critical relaxation exponent, indicating that they are probing different structures. Analysis of material heterogeneity shows measured heterogeneity is dependent on probe size indicating that each particle is measuring rheological evolution of a length scale dependent structure. Overall, bi-disperse MPT increases the amount of information gained in a single measurement, enabling more complete characterization of complex systems that range from consumer care products to biological materials. 
    more » « less
  2. Due to their small size, measurements of the complex composition of atmospheric aerosol particles and their surfaces are analytically challenging. This is particularly true for microspectroscopic methods, where it can be difficult to optically identify individual particles smaller than the diffraction limit of visible light (∼350 nm) and measure their vibrational modes. Recently, surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) has been applied to the study of aerosol particles, allowing for detection and characterization of previously undistinguishable vibrational modes. However, atmospheric particles analyzed via SERS have primarily been >1 μm to date, much larger than the diameter of the most abundant atmospheric aerosols (∼100 nm). To push SERS towards more relevant particle sizes, a simplified approach involving Ag foil substrates was developed. Both ambient particles and several laboratory-generated model aerosol systems (polystyrene latex spheres (PSLs), ammonium sulfate, and sodium nitrate) were investigated to determine SERS enhancements. SERS spectra of monodisperse, model aerosols between 400–800 nm were compared with non-SERS enhanced spectra, yielding average enhancement factors of 10 2 for both inorganic and organic vibrational modes. Additionally, SERS-enabled detection of 150 nm size-selected ambient particles represent the smallest individual aerosol particles analyzed by Raman microspectroscopy to date, and the first time atmospheric particles have been measured at sizes approaching the atmospheric number size distribution mode. SERS-enabled detection and identification of vibrational modes in smaller, more atmospherically-relevant particles has the potential to improve understanding of aerosol composition and surface properties, as well as their impact on heterogeneous and multiphase reactions involving aerosol surfaces. 
    more » « less
  3. Contact charge electrophoresis (CCEP) uses steady electric fields to drive the continuous, oscillatory motion of conductive particles and droplets between two or more electrodes. These rapid oscillations can be rectified to direct the motion of objects within microfluidic environments using low-power, dc voltage. Here, we compare high precision experimental measurements of CCEP within a microfluidic system to equally detailed theoretical predictions on the motion of a conductive particle between parallel electrodes. We use a simple, capillary microfluidic platform that combines high-speed imaging with precision electrical measurements to enable the synchronized acquisition of both the particle location and the electric current due to particle motion. The experimental results are compared to those of a theoretical model, which relies on a Stokesian dynamics approach to accurately describe both the electrostatic and hydrodynamic problems governing particle motion. We find remarkable agreement between theory and experiment, suggesting that particle motion can be accurately captured by a combination of classical electrostatics and low-Reynolds number hydrodynamics. Building on this agreement, we offer new insight into the charge transfer process that occurs when the particle nears contact with an electrode surface. In particular, we find that the particle does not make mechanical contact with the electrode but rather that charge transfer occurs at finite surface separations of >0.1 μm by means of an electric discharge through a thin lubricating film. We discuss the implications of these findings on the charging of the particle and its subsequent dynamics. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Profiles of stratospheric aerosol size distributions have been measured using balloon‐bornein situoptical particle counters, from Laramie, Wyoming (41°N) since 1971. In 2019, this measurement record transitioned to the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) in Boulder, Colorado (40°N). The new LASP Optical Particle Counter (LOPC), the fourth generation of instruments used for this record, is smaller and lighter (2 kg) than prior instruments, measures aerosols with diameters ≥0.3–30 μm in up to 450 size bins, with a flow rate of 20 L min−1. The improved size resolution enables the complete measurement of size distributions, and calculation of aerosol extinction without fittinga prioridistribution shapes. The higher flow provides the sensitivity required to measure super‐micron particles in the stratosphere. The LOPC has been validated against prior Wyoming OPCs, through joint flights, laboratory comparisons, and statistical comparisons with the Wyoming record. The agreement between instruments is generally within the measurement uncertainty of ±10%–20% in sizing and ±10% in concentration, and within ±40% for calculated aerosol moments. The record is being continued with balloon soundings every 2 months from Colorado, coordinated with measurements of aerosol extinction from the SAGE III instrument on the International Space Station. Comparisons of aerosol extinction from the remote andin situplatforms have shown good agreement in the stratosphere, particularly for wavelengths <755 nm and altitudes <25 km. For extinction wavelengths ≥1,021 nm and altitudes above 25 km SAGE III/International Space Station extinction has a low bias relative to thein situmeasurements, yet still within the ±40% uncertainty.

    more » « less
  5. The pH of aerosol particles remains challenging to measure because of their small size, complex composition, and high acidity. Acidity in aqueous aerosol particles, which are found abundantly in the atmosphere, impacts many chemical processes from reaction rates to cloud formation. Only one technique – pH paper – currently exists for directly determining the pH of aerosol particles, and this is restricted to measuring average acidity for entire particle populations. Other methods for evaluating aerosol pH include filter samples, particle-into-liquid sampling, Raman spectroscopy, organic dyes, and thermodynamic models, but these either operate in a higher pH range or are unable to assess certain chemical species or complexity. Here, we present a new method for determining acidity of individual particles and particle phases using carbon quantum dots as a novel in situ fluorophore. Carbon quantum dots are easily synthesized, shelf stable, and sensitive to pH in the highly acidic regime from pH 0 to pH 3 relevant to ambient aerosol particles. To establish the method, a calibration curve was formed from the ratiometric fluorescence intensity of aerosolized standard solutions with a correlation coefficient ( R 2 ) of 0.99. Additionally, the pH of aerosol particles containing a complex organic mixture (COM) representative of environmental aerosols was also determined, proving the efficacy of using carbon quantum dots as pH-sensitive fluorophores for complex systems. The ability to directly measure aerosol particle and phase acidity in the correct pH range can help parametrize atmospheric models and improve projections for other aerosol properties and their influence on health and climate. 
    more » « less