/Dielectrophoretic capture of biomolecules

Dielectrophoretic capture of biomolecules

Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Explore the cutting edge where biology and engineering converge
The ability to precisely manipulate the movement of biomolecules is fundamentally important for the development of next-generation microfluidic devices. A highly promising technique to do so is dielectrophoresis. Activated by applying non-uniform electric field through micro-fabricated electrodes, dielectrophoresis forces a particle to migrate either towards or away from regions of high electric field strength. By modulating the frequency of the electrical signal, the dielectrophoretic force can be selectively applied on a particle based on its conductive and dielectric characteristics. Due to its precise and selective nature, dielectrophoresis has been exploited for different commercial applications, such as the ApoStream™ targeted cell separation technology and Biological Dynamics’ microarray devices.


However, the design of sophisticated devices for the dielectrophoretic (DEP)-based manipulation of biomolecules is hampered by the lack of fundamental understanding of different biomolecules’ polarizability in aqueous medium. In this thesis, the student will work with state-of-the-art nanoelectrode devices, fabricated in the imec FAB, to study the capture of biological molecules based on their polarizability, the buffer conductivity, and the molecular size. Complementary, the student will also perform numerical simulations to guide and understand the experiments. We will apply the insights to propose strategies for performing DEP-based biomolecular separation in clinically relevant samples.


This thesis will consist of 10% literature study, 20% modelling, 50% experiments, and 20% reporting/writing.

Type of project: Thesis

Duration: 6 months - 1 year

Required degree: Master of Bioengineering

Required background: Bioscience Engineering, Nanoscience & Nanotechnology, Biomedical engineering

Supervising scientist(s): For further information or for application, please contact: Kherim Willems (Kherim.Willems@imec.be) and Ying Ting Set (Ying.Ting.Set@imec.be)

Only for self-supporting students.