Accurate mass sensing and monitoring of live cells and small particles

Principal Investigator: Lih-Yuan Lin

The size and mass of a single cell are two physiological factors that are regulated by both environmental and genetic factors. It is still not well understood how cell size is influenced by these factors. The first step in this endeavor is to be able to accurately measure and monitor cell mass. Flow cytometry is commonly used to estimate the relative size of cells by measuring the light scatter of cells passing a laser in single-file. However, this technique does not result in an accurate cell size measurement. Here, the investigators have developed a novel technique that can capture and fix a cell in place and measure the cell’s mass with high accuracy.

This innovation stems from the integration two technologies: a photonic crystal optical tweezers platform, and a collection of MEMS resonators and microfluidic channels. The photonic crystal optical tweezers capture and hold the position of cells on the MEMS resonators while the size and mass of the cell is measured.

• This technology could expedite the development of novel drugs. 

• This method could lead to a more complete understanding of how a cell’s size or mass fluctuates in the presence of chemical or mechanical stimulation. 

• This innovation could be used to measure how a single fertilized egg grows in size/mass in real-time at the beginning of prenatal development.

For more info, contact: Ryan Buckmaster