Dielectrophoretic separation of airborne microbes and dust particles using a microfluidic channel for real-time bioaerosol monitoring

Hui Sung Moon, Yun Woo Nam, Chan Park Jae, Hyo Il Jung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Airborne microbes such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses are a threat to public health. Robust and real-time detection systems are necessary to prevent and control such dangerous biological particles in public places and dwellings. For direct and real-time detection of airborne microbes, samples must be collected and typically resuspended in liquid prior to detection; however, environmental particles such as dust are also trapped in such samples. Therefore, the isolation of target bacteria or a selective collection of microbes from unwanted nonbiological particles prior to detection is of great importance. Dielectrophoresis (DEP), the translational motion of charge neutral matter in nonuniform electric fields, is an emerging technique that can rapidly separate biological particles in microfluidics because low voltages produce significant and contactlessforcesonparticleswithoutanymodificationorlabeling. In this paper, we propose a new method for the separation of airborne microbes using DEP with a simple and novel curved electrode design for separating bacteria in a solution containing beads or dust that are taken from an airborne environmental sample. Using this method, we successfully isolated 90% of the airborne bacterium Micrococcus luteus from a mixture of bacteria and dust using a microfluidic device, consisting of novel curved electrodes that attract bacteria and repel or leave dust particles. As there has been little research on analyzing environmental samples using microfluidics and DEP, this work describes a novel strategy for a rapid and direct bioaerosol monitoring system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5857-5863
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Aug 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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