Size and medium conductivity dependence on dielectrophoretic behaviors of gas core poly-l-lysine shell nanoparticles

Dynamic (dis)assembly of biocompatible nanoparticles into 3D, packed structures would benefit drug delivery, films, and diagnostics. Dielectrophoretic (DEP) microdevices can rapidly assemble and manipulate polarizable particles within nonuniform electric fields. DEP has primarily discerned micrometer particles since nanoparticles experience smaller forces. This work examines conductivity and size DEP dependencies of previously unexplored spherical core-shell nanoparticle (CSnp) into 3D particle assemblies. Poly-l-lysine shell material was custom synthesized around a gas core to form CSnps. DEP frequencies from 1 kHz to 80 MHz at fixed 5 volts peak-to-peak and medium conductivities of 10-5 and 10-3 S/m were tested. DEP responses of ~220 and ~400 nm poly-L-lysine CSnps were quantified via video intensity densitometry at the microdevice's quadrapole electrode center for negative DEP (nDEP) and adjacent to electrodes for positive DEP. Intensity densitometry was then translated into a relative DEP response curve. An unusual nDEP peak occurred at ~57 MHz with 25-80 times greater apparent nDEP force. All electrical circuit components were then impedance matched, which changed the observed response to weak positive DEP at low frequencies and consistently weak nDEP from ~100 kHz to 80 MHz. This impedance-matched behavior agrees with conventional Clausius-Mossotti DEP signatures taking into account the gas core's contributions to the polarization mechanisms. This work describes a potential pitfall when conducting DEP at higher frequencies in microdevices and concurrently demonstrates nDEP behavior for a chemically and structurally distinct particle system. This work provides insight into organic shell material properties in nanostructures and strategies to facilitate dynamic nanoparticle assemblies.

Yang, Chungja, Chun-Jen Wu, Agnes E. Ostafin, Giselle Thibaudeau, Adrienne R. Minerick






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