High gradient magnetic field microstructures for magnetophoretic cell separation
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Microfluidics has advanced magnetic blood fractionation by making integrated miniature devices possible. A ferromagnetic microstructure array that is integrated with a microfluidic channel rearranges an applied magnetic field to create a high gradient magnetic field (HGMF). By leveraging the differential magnetic susceptibilities of cell types contained in a host medium, such as paramagnetic red blood cells (RBCs) and diamagnetic white blood cells (WBCs), the resulting HGMF can be used to continuously separate them without attaching additional labels, such as magnetic beads, to them. We describe the effect of these ferromagnetic microstructure geometries have on the blood separation efficacy by numerically simulating the influence of microstructure height and pitch on the HGMF characteristics and resulting RBC separation. Visualizations of RBC trajectories provide insight into how arrays can be optimized to best separate these cells from a host fluid. Periodic microstructures are shown to moderate the applied field due to magnetic interference between the adjacent teeth of an array. Since continuous microstructures do not similarly weaken the resultant HGMF, they facilitate significantly higher RBC separation. Nevertheless, periodic arrays are more appropriate for relatively deep microchannels since, unlike continuous microstructures, their separation effectiveness is independent of depth. The results are relevant to the design of microfluidic devices that leverage HGMFs to fractionate blood by separating RBCs and WBCs.
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