Shaping acoustic fields as a toolset for microfluidic manipulations in diagnostic technologies

Julien Reboud, Yannyk Bourquin, Rab Wilson, Gurman S. Pall, Meesbah Jiwaji, Andrew R. Pitt, Anne Graham, Andrew P. Waters, Jonathan M. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ultrasonics offers the possibility of developing sophisticated fluid manipulation tools in lab-on-a-chip technologies. Here we demonstrate the ability to shape ultrasonic fields by using phononic lattices, patterned on a disposable chip, to carry out the complex sequence of fluidic manipulations required to detect the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei in blood. To illustrate the different tools that are available to us, we used acoustic fields to produce the required rotational vortices that mechanically lyse both the red blood cells and the parasitic cells present in a drop of blood. This procedure was followed by the amplification of parasitic genomic sequences using different acoustic fields and frequencies to heat the sample and perform a real-time PCR amplification. The system does not require the use of lytic reagents nor enrichment steps, making it suitable for further integration into lab-on-a-chip point-of-care devices. This acoustic sample preparation and PCR enables us to detect ca. 30 parasites in a microliter-sized blood sample, which is the same order of magnitude in sensitivity as lab-based PCR tests. Unlike other lab-on-a-chip methods, where the sample moves through channels, here we use our ability to shape the acoustic fields in a frequency-dependent manner to provide different analytical functions. The methods also provide a clear route toward the integration of PCR to detect pathogens in a single handheld system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15162-15167
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number38
Early online date4 Sept 2012
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2012


  • real-time polymerase chain reaction
  • animals
  • cell count
  • acoustics
  • humans
  • erythrocytes
  • malaria
  • mice
  • plasmodium berghei
  • equipment design
  • microfluidics
  • hemoglobins
  • diagnostic techniques and procedures
  • microfluidic analytical techniques
  • surface properties
  • phononic crystal
  • surface acoustic waves
  • nucleic acid amplification test
  • mechanical cell lysis


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