Department of Engineering / News / Microcage grasping device holds biological cells without damage

Department of Engineering

Microcage grasping device holds biological cells without damage

Microcage grasping device holds biological cells without damage

Researchers in the Electron Device Material (EDM) group of the Department of Engineering have developed a technology to fabricate multi-fingered microcages with a diameter of ~40µm.

Microcages of a metal/DLC bimorph structure which are suitable for capturing biological cells

This device is suitable for trapping and holding biological specimens such as cells without applying a force directly on it, thus avoiding damage to the cell. This device is made from a metal and Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) bimorph structure. The compressively stressed DLC layer expands once the bimorph structure is released from the substrate, and forms a closed microcage. A pulsed current of <10mA with duration of milliseconds can be applied to generate a thermal stress on the metal side, and force the microcage to open. The power to open the microcage is less than 20mW. The advantage of a pulsed operation is to keep the device temperature lower, thus they can be used for biological applications. The movie shows the open/close cycles of a microcage with six-fingers under a pulsed current.

Those who are interested in collaboration please contact Dr. Jack Luo. For more information about the activities of microsystems (or MEMS) at EDM group, please visit the EDM website

This research comes under the umbrella of the new Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) project, and was sponsored by Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI)

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