Microfluidic Device and Method for Detection and Separation of Particles by Isoelectric Focusing

Introduction Electrophoresis and isoelectric focusing techniques are well suited to rapid isolation and detection of biological particles. Microfluidic devices are particularly amenable to electrophoresis-based applications, offering advantages such as low reagent and sample consumption, reduced energy consumption and reduced analysis time. Technology description Researchers at the University of Washington have invented a microfluidic device that can rapidly and continuously fractionate a heterogeneous mixture of particles and then concentrate target particles based on surface charge. This invention implements isoelectric focusing in which microchannels formed by two long parallel electrodes produce an electric field perpendicular to the direction of fluid flow, allowing for continuous sample processing. This device offers several improvements on currently existing isoelectric focusing devices including (1) generation of high field strength at lower absolute voltages at the electrodes due to a small interelectrode gap which reduces gas bubble generation (2) high surface-tovolume ratio that facilitates heat transport thus reducing or even eliminating the need for cooling, and (3) minimization of convective disturbances within the separation chamber due to both laminar flow and minimal heating. Business Opportunity This invention can be used for rapid isolation and identification of biological agents for applications such as medical diagnosis and biological warfare agent detection. This device can also be applied as a preconditioning system for samples such as blood or the output from an air sampler to prevent device blockage and ensure detection of analytes of interest without interference from other irrelevant compounds or particles. Stage of Development Our researchers have successfully manufactured thus device and have a working prototype.

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