Self-propelling micromotors are emerging as a promising microscale tool for single-cell analysis. The authors have recently shown that the field gradients necessary to manipulate matter via dielectrophoresis can be induced at the surface of a polarizable active (“self-propelling”) metallo-dielectric Janus particle (JP) under an externally applied electric field, acting essentially as a mobile floating microelectrode. Here, the application of the mobile floating microelectrode to trap and transport cell organelles in a selective and releasable manner is successfully extended. This selectivity is driven by the different dielectrophoretic (DEP) potential wells on the JP surface that is controlled by the frequency of the electric field, along with the hydrodynamic shearing and size of the trapped organelles. Such selective and directed loading enables purification of targeted organelles of interest from a mixed biological sample while their dynamic release enables their harvesting for further analysis such as gene/RNA sequencing or proteomics. Moreover, the electro-deformation of the trapped nucleus is shown to be in correlation with the DEP force and hence, can act as a promising label-free biomechanical marker. Hence, the active carrier constitutes an important and novel ex vivo platform for manipulation and mechanical probing of subcellular components of potential for single cell analysis.
- active particles
- cell organelles
- mechanical probing
- selective transport and release