High-Performance Ultrasonic Tweezers for Manipulation of Motile and Still Single Cells in a Droplet

Qingyang Liu, Junhui Hu, Igor V. Minin, Oleg V. Minin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The manipulation of motile and still single cells with the simultaneous features of selective trapping, 3-D path free transport, position-controllable release and little heat damage has been a significant challenge. We developed an ultrasonic method for capturing motile and still single cells with the aforementioned features in a droplet. During manipulation, a micromanipulation probe (MMP), which vibrated linearly with a trajectory parallel to a silicon substrate, was immersed in the droplet and was not in contact with the substrate. Motile and still single cells, such as Chattonella marina with a length of 30–50 μm and yeast cells with a diameter of 3–10 μm, at the interface between the droplet and substrate were selectively sucked onto the vibrating MMP and transported via a 3-D route inside the droplet by moving the MMP (or the device). The MMP and captured single cells were in contact, making the release position controllable. The measured temperature rise of the MMP was <0.1°C; thus, it is competitive for the manipulation of biological samples. Finite-element analyses revealed that the contact-type capture was due to acoustic radiation force generated by the ultrasonic field around the vibrating MMP. The dependence of the capture capability and working frequency bandwidth on the working conditions was investigated experimentally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3018-3027
Number of pages10
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Cell manipulation
  • Tweezers
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics

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