We present details of an apparatus for capacitive detection of biomaterials in microfluidic channels operating at microwave frequencies where dielectric effects due to interfacial polarization are minimal. A circuit model is presented, which can be used to adapt this detection system for use in other microfluidic applications and to identify ones where it would not be suitable. The detection system is based on a microwave coupled transmission line resonator integrated into an interferometer. At 1.5 GHz the system is capable of detecting changes in capacitance of 650 zF with a 50 Hz bandwidth. This system is well suited to the detection of biomaterials in a variety of suspending fluids, including phosphate-buffered saline. Applications involving both model particles (polystyrene microspheres) and living cells-baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and Chinese hamster ovary cells-are presented.
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