Insulator-based dielectrophoresis is a relatively new analytical technique with a large potential for a number of applications, such as sorting, separation, purification, fractionation, and preconcentration. The application of insulator-based dielectrophoresis (iDEP) for biological samples, however, requires the precise control of the microenvironment with temporal and spatial resolution. Temperature variations during an iDEP experiment are a critical aspect in iDEP since Joule heating could lead to various detrimental effects hampering reproducibility. Additionally, Joule heating can potentially induce thermal flow and more importantly can degrade biomolecules and other biological species. Here, we investigate temperature variations in iDEP devices experimentally employing the thermosensitive dye Rhodamin B (RhB) and compare the measured results with numerical simulations. We performed the temperature measurement experiments at a relevant buffer conductivity range commonly used for iDEP applications under applied electric potentials. To this aim, we employed an in-channel measurement method and an alternative method employing a thin film located slightly below the iDEP channel. We found that the temperature does not deviate significantly from room temperature at 100 μS/cm up to 3000 V applied such as in protein iDEP experiments. At a conductivity of 300 μS/cm, such as previously used for mitochondria iDEP experiments at 3000 V, the temperature never exceeds 34 °C. This observation suggests that temperature effects for iDEP of proteins and mitochondria under these conditions are marginal. However, at larger conductivities (1 mS/cm) and only at 3000 V applied, temperature increases were significant, reaching a regime in which degradation is likely to occur. Moreover, the thin layer method resulted in lower temperature enhancement which was also confirmed with numerical simulations. We thus conclude that the thin film method is preferable providing closer agreement with numerical simulations and further since it does not depend on the iDEP channel material. Overall, our study provides a thorough comparison of two experimental techniques for direct temperature measurement, which can be adapted to a variety of iDEP applications in the future. The good agreement between simulation and experiment will also allow one to assess temperature variations for iDEP devices prior to experiments.
Nakano, Asuka, Jinghui Luo, Alexandra Ros