A new cytological tool, based on the micro Coulter particle counter (CPC) principle, aimed at diagnostic applications for cell counting and separation in haematology, oncology or toxicology is described. The device measures the spectral impedance of individual cells or particles and allows screening rates over 100 samples s(-1) on a single-cell basis. This analyzer is intended to drive a sorting actuator producing a subsequent cell separation. Size reduction and integration of functions are essential in achieving precise measurements and high throughput. 3D finite element simulations are presented to compare various electrode geometries and their influence on cell parameters estimation. The device is based on a glass-polyimide microfluidic chip with integrated channels and electrodes microfabricated at the length scale of the particles to be investigated (1-20 mum). A laminar liquid flow carries the suspended particles through the measurement area. Each particle's impedance signal is recorded by a differential pair of microelectrodes using the cell surrounding media as a reference. The micromachined chip and processing electronic circuit allow simultaneous impedance measurements at multiple frequencies, ranging from 100 kHz to 15 MHz. In this paper, we describe the microfabrication and characterisation of an on-chip flow-cytometer as the first building block of a complete cell- sorting device. We then discuss the signal conditioning technique and finally impedance measurements of cells and particles of different sizes and types to demonstrate the differentiation of subpopulations in a mixed sample.
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