New York: A mechanical engineer from the University of Hawaii at Manoa has developed a new, high-throughput method for sorting cells, capable of separating 10 billion bacterial cells in 30 minutes.
Through-put is the rate of production or the rate at which something can be processed.
The finding has already proven useful for studying bacterial cells and micro-algae.
This could one day have direct applications for biomedical research and environmental science - basically any field in which a large quantity of microbial samples need to be processed.
"It is a bulk method that sorts different cell populations by tuning their solubility. It has no apparent limitations in sorting," said mechanical engineer Yi Zuo.
Almost all of today's cell-sorting methods rely on what is called a single-cell analysis platform.
The new method relies on a measurement principle that sorts cells by differentiating their characteristic surface free energies.
Compared to other cell properties, such as size and deformability, it is technically challenging to determine their surface free energy.
"Only recently we developed a novel spectrophotometric method for directly determining the surface free energy of live cells. Based on this technological advance, we are able to implement the principle of surface free energy-activated cell sorting," Zuo noted.
The new method was described in the scientific journal Analytical Chemistry.