The development of a novel Bio-MEMS filtration chip for the separation of specific cells in fluid suspension

M. Prince, X. Ma*, P. Docker, M. Ward, P. Prewett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the clinical/microbiological laboratory there are currently several ways of separating specific cells from a fluid suspension. Conventionally cells can be separated based on size, density, electrical charge, light-scattering properties, and antigenic surface properties. Separating cells using these parameters can require complex technologies and specialist equipment. This paper proposes new Bio-MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) filtration chips manufactured using deep reactive ion etching (DRIE) technology that, when used in conjunction with an optical microscope and a syringe, can filter and grade cells for size without the requirement for additional expensive equipment. These chips also offer great versatility in terms of design and their low cost allows them to be disposable, eliminating sample contamination. The pumping mechanism, unlike many other current filtration techniques, leaves samples mechanically and chemically undamaged. In this paper the principles behind harnessing passive pumping are explored, modelled, and validated against empirical data, and their integration into a microfluidic device to separate cells from a mixed population suspension is described. The design, means of manufacture, and results from preliminary tests are also presented. © IMechE 2007.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-128
Number of pages16
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2007


  • bio-MEMS
  • cell separation
  • deep reactive ion etching
  • filtration
  • particle image velocimetry


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