Electroporation, the permeabilization of the cell membrane lipid bilayer due to a pulsed electric field, has important implications in the biotechnology, medicine, and food industries. Traditional macro and micro-electroporation devices have facing electrodes, and require significant potential differences to induce electroporation. The goal of this theoretical study is to investigate the feasibility of singularity-induced micro-electroporation; an electroporation configuration aimed at minimizing the potential differences required to induce electroporation by separating adjacent electrodes with a nanometer-scale insulator. In particular, this study aims to understand the effect of (1) insulator thickness and (2) electrode kinetics on electric field distributions in the singularity-induced micro-electroporation configuration. A non-dimensional primary current distribution model of the micro-electroporation channel shows that while increasing insulator thickness results in smaller electric field magnitudes, electroporation can still be performed with insulators thick enough to be made with microfabrication techniques. Furthermore, a secondary current distribution model of the singularity-induced micro-electroporation configuration with inert platinum electrodes and water electrolyte indicates that electrode kinetics do not inhibit charge transfer to the extent that prohibitively large potential differences are required to perform electroporation. These results indicate that singularity-induced micro-electroporation could be used to develop an electroporation system that consumes minimal power, making it suitable for remote applications such as the sterilization of water and other liquids. © 2011 Troszak, Rubinsky.
Troszak, G. D., & Rubinsky, B. (2011). A theoretical analysis of the feasibility of a singularity-induced micro-electroporation system. PLoS ONE, 6(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0018523