AIMS Biophysics, 2016, 3(4): 596-608. doi: 10.3934/biophy.2016.4.596

Research article

Export file:


  • RIS(for EndNote,Reference Manager,ProCite)
  • BibTex
  • Text


  • Citation Only
  • Citation and Abstract

A compact and low cost microfluidic cell impedance detection system

1 School of Information and Electronics, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing 100081, China
2 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0407, USA

A microfluidic cell impedance measurement device is presented in this article. The design is simple to fabricate, compact, highly sensitive, and can be easily incorporated into a microfluidic flow cytometer suitable for point-of-care applications. The simple fabrication process and enhanced sensitivity are attributed partly to a novel design of using fluidic channels as “liquid electrodes” to assure a uniform electric field distribution over the cell detection zone. The system’s low cost and compact size is due to its sheathless flow design and single circuit board for cell impedance detection, eliminating expensive and bulky equipments such as lock-in amplifiers and additional sheath flow pumps. The device clearly detects and distinguishes polystyrene beads of 7.66 µm, 10.5 µm and 14.7 µm diameters in a mixture with coefficients of variation of 13.87%, 7.98% and 3.74%, respectively. By extracting the features of cell impedance signals using signal processing, we have introduced a new parameter, impedance ratio, to enhance the cell classification capabilities of the device, as demonstrated in the experiment of lymphocytes and granulocytes detection from whole blood.
  Article Metrics


1. Graham MD (2003) The coulter principle: foundation of an industry. J Lab Autom 8: 72–81.    

2. Dale DC, Boxer L, Liles WC (2008) The phagocytes: neutrophils and monocytes. Blood 112: 935–945.

3. Streets AM, Huang Y (2013) Chip in a lab: Microfluidics for next generation life science research. Biomicrofluidics 7: 011302.    

4. Watkins N, Irimia D, Toner M, et al. (2011) On a chip. Ieee Pulse 2: 19–27.

5. Mark D, Haeberle S, Roth G, et al. (2010) Microfluidic lab-on-a-chip platforms: requirements, characteristics and applications. Chem Soc Rev 39: 1153–1182.    

6. Miyamura K (2004) Development of blood cell counter for point of care testing (POCT). Horiba Technical Journal “Readout”: 56–61.

7. Tanabe R, Hata S, Shimokohbe A (2006) MEMS complete blood count sensors designed to reduce noise from electrolysis gas. Microelectron Eng 83: 1646–1650.    

8. Zheng S, Liu M, Tai YC (2008) Micro coulter counters with platinum black electroplated electrodes for human blood cell sensing. Biomed Microdevices 10: 221–231.    

9. Jagtiani AV, Carletta J, Zhe J (2011) An impedimetric approach for accurate particle sizing using a microfluidic Coulter counter. J Micromech Microeng 21: 045036.    

10. Chun H, Chung TD, Kim HC (2005) Cytometry and velocimetry on a microfluidic chip using polyelectrolytic salt bridges. Anal Chem 77: 2490–2495.    

11. Joo S, Kim KH, Kim HC, et al. (2010) A portable microfluidic flow cytometer based on simultaneous detection of impedance and fluorescence. Biosens Bioelectron 25: 1509–1515.    

12. Holmes D, Pettigrew D, Reccius CH, et al. (2009) Leukocyte analysis and differentiation using high speed microfluidic single cell impedance cytometry. Lab Chip 9: 2881–2889.    

13. Cheung KC, Berardino MD, Schade-Kampmann G, et al. (2010) Microfluidic impedance-based flow cytometry. Cytometry A 77: 648–666.

14. Cheung KC, Gawad S, Renaud P (2005) Impedance spectroscopy flow cytometry: on-chip label-free cell differentiation. Cytometry A 65: 124–132.

15. Sun T, Morgan H (2010) Single-cell microfluidic impedance cytometry: a review. Microfluid Nanofluidics 8: 423–443.    

16. Gawad S, Schild L, Renaud P (2001) Micromachined impedance spectroscopy flow cytometer for cell analysis and particle sizing. Lab Chip 1: 76–82.    

17. Wood Dk, Oh SH, Lee SH, et al. (2005) High-bandwidth radio frequency Coulter counter. Appl Phys Lett 87: 184106.    

18. Rodriguez-Trujillo R, Castillo-Fernandez O, Garrido M, et al. (2008) High-speed particle detection in a micro-Coulter counter with two-dimensional adjustable aperture. Biosens Bioelectron 24: 290–296.

19. Bernabini C, Holmes D, Morgan H (2011) Micro-impedance cytometry for detection and analysis of micron-sized particles and bacteria. Lab Chip 11: 407–412.    

20. Spencer D, Morgan H (2011) Positional dependence of particles in microfludic impedance cytometry. Lab Chip 11: 1234–1239.    

21. Lee DW, Yi S, Cho YH (2008) A flow rate independent cell concentration measurement chip using electrical cell counters across a fixed control volume. J Microelectromech S 17: 139–146.    

22. Jagtiani AV, Sawant R, Zhe J (2006) A label-free high throughput resistive-pulse sensor for simultaneous differentiation and measurement of multiple particle-laden analytes. J Microelectromech S 16: 1530.

23. Zhan Y, Cao Z, Bao N, et al. (2012) Low-frequency ac electroporation shows strong frequency dependence and yields comparable transfection results to dc electroporation. J Control Release 160: 570–576.    

24. Demierre N, Braschler T, Linderholm P, et al. (2007) Characterization and optimization of liquid electrodes for lateral dielectrophoresis. Lab Chip 7: 355–365.    

25. Friend J, Yeo L (2010) Fabrication of microfluidic devices using polydimethylsiloxane. Biomicrofluidics 4: 026502.    

26. Van BC, Gwyer JD, Deane S, et al. (2011) Integrated systems for rapid point of care (PoC) blood cell analysis. Lab Chip 11: 1249–1255.    

27. Wu TF, Mei Z, Pion-Tonachini L, et al. (2011) An optical-coding method to measure particle distribution in microfluidic devices. AIP Adv 1: 022155.    

28. Mei Z, Wu TF, Pion-Tonachini L, et al. (2011) Applying an optical space-time coding method to enhance light scattering signals in microfluidic devices. Biomicrofluidics 5: 034116.    

Copyright Info: © 2016, Zhe Mei, et al., licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (

Download full text in PDF

Export Citation

Article outline

Show full outline
Copyright © AIMS Press All Rights Reserved