Resolving the heterogeneity of particle populations by size is important when the particle size is a signature of abnormal biological properties leading to disease. Accessing size heterogeneity in the sub-micrometer regime is particularly important to resolve populations of subcellular species or diagnostically relevant bioparticles. Here, we demonstrate a ratchet migration mechanism capable of separating sub-micrometer sized species by size and apply it to biological particles. The phenomenon is based on a deterministic ratchet effect, is realized in a microfluidic device, and exhibits fast migration allowing separation in tens of seconds. We characterize this phenomenon extensively with the aid of a numerical model allowing one to predict the speed and resolution of this method. We further demonstrate the deterministic ratchet migration with two sub-micrometer sized beads as model system experimentally as well as size-heterogeneous mouse liver mitochondria and liposomes as model system for other organelles. We demonstrate excellent agreement between experimentally observed migration and the numerical model.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry