Practical, microfabrication-free device for single-cell isolation

Liang I. Lin, Shih-Hui Chao, Deirdre Meldrum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Microfabricated devices have great potential in cell-level studies, but are not easily accessible for the broad biology community. This paper introduces the Microscale Oil-Covered Cell Array (MOCCA) as a low-cost device for high throughput single-cell analysis that can be easily produced by researchers without microengineering knowledge. Instead of using microfabricated structures to capture cells, MOCCA isolates cells in discrete aqueous droplets that are separated by oil on patterned hydrophilic areas across a relatively more hydrophobic substrate. The number of randomly seeded Escherichia coli bacteria in each discrete droplet approaches single-cell levels. The cell distribution on MOCCA is well-fit with Poisson distribution. In this pioneer study, we created an array of 900-picoliter droplets. The total time needed to seed cells in ∼3000 droplets was less than 10 minutes. Compared to traditional microfabrication techniques, MOCCA dramatically lowers the cost of microscale cell arrays, yet enhances the fabrication and operational efficiency for single-cell analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere6710
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 21 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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