In collaboration with Cavendish Laboratory (Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge), Dolomite, a world leader in the design and manufacture of microfluidic solutions, has designed a glass microfluidic device for a novel laser tool that allows the study of mechanical properties of cells using optical stretching on a single cell basis.
This new device can be used to trap and deform individual biological cells benefiting a wide range of application areas including cancer diagnosis, stem cell analysis and cell sorting.
Working closely with Dr. Jochen Guck and his team from the Cavendish Laboratory Dolomite developed a multi-layered glass microfluidic chip featuring 3 inlets. Its unique design integrates both fluidic and optical fibre channels allowing the chip to be used as a two beam laser optical trap for cell mechanical measurements. One of the fabrication challenges was to ensure the optical fibres were aligned to micron accuracy so that the two laser beams met in a microchannel allowing the cells to be captured.
After aligning, the fluid-borne cells are exposed to laser beams, which stretch them to probe their elasticity. Thus, cancerous cells, for example, can be detected as they are softer than healthy cells. The optical stretcher offers a very cost effective and time efficient solution which compares favourably to traditional methods used to measure cell mechanics.