Microfluidics is a highly useful platform for culturing, monitoring, and testing biological cells. The integration of electrodes into microfluidic channels extends the functionality, sensing, and testing capabilities of microfluidic systems. By employing an electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) technique, the non-invasive, label-free detection of the activities of cells in real-time can be achieved. To address the movement toward spatially resolving cells in cell culture, we developed a sensory system capable of electro-addressing cell location within a microfluidic channel. This simple system allows for real-time cell location, integrity monitoring (of barrier producing cells), and confluency sensing without the need for frequent optical evaluation—saving time. EIS results demonstrate that cells within microfluidic channels can be located between various pairs of electrodes at different positions along the length of the device. Impedance spectra clearly differentiates between empty, sparse, and confluent microfluidic channels. The system also senses the level of cell confluence between electrode pairs—allowing for the relative quantification of cells in different areas of the microfluidic channel. The system’s electrode layout can easily be incorporated into other devices. Namely, organ-on-a-chip devices, that require the monitoring of precise cell location and confluency levels for understanding tissue function, modeling diseases, and for testing therapeutics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas