We show, via three-dimensional immersed-boundary-finite-element-lattice-Boltzmann simulations, that deformability-based red blood cell (RBC) separation in deterministic lateral displacement (DLD) devices is possible. This is due to the deformability-dependent lateral extension of RBCs and enables us to predict a priori which RBCs will be displaced in a given DLD geometry. Several diseases affect the deformability of human cells. Malaria-infected RBCs, for example, tend to become stiffer than their healthy counterparts. It is therefore desirable to design microfluidic devices which can detect diseases based on the cells' deformability fingerprint, rather than preparing samples using expensive and time-consuming biochemical preparation steps. Our findings should be helpful in the development of new methods for sorting cells and particles by deformability.
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