Measurement of dielectric properties of cells at single-cell resolution using electrorotation. Academic Article uri icon


  • Dielectric properties of a cell are biophysical properties of high interest for various applications. However, measuring these properties accurately is not easy, which can be exemplified by the large variations in reported dielectric properties of the same cell types. This paper presents a method for measuring the dielectric properties of cells at high frequency, especially lipid-producing microalgae, at single-cell resolution, by integrating an electrorotation-based dielectric property measurement method with a negative dielectrophoretic (nDEP) force-based single-cell trapping method into a single device. In this method, a four-electrode nDEP structure was used to trap a single cell in an elevated position in the center of another four-electrode structure that can apply electrorotational force. By measuring the speed of cell rotation under different applied electrorotation frequencies and fitting the results into a theoretical core-shell cell model, the dielectric properties of cells, including membrane capacitance and cytoplasm conductivity, could be obtained. This system was applied to measure the dielectric properties of lipid-accumulating microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii strain Sta6 by applying an electrorotation signal of up to 100MHz. By utilizing a broad frequency range and expanding the measurement spectra to a high frequency region, increased accuracy in fitting the dielectric parameters to a theoretical model was possible, especially the cytoplasm conductivity. The developed method can be used in various applications, such as screening microalgae based on their lipid production capabilities, separating cells of different dielectric properties, identifying different cell types, as well as conducting basic biophysical analyses of cellular properties.

published proceedings

  • Biomed Microdevices

author list (cited authors)

  • Li, Y., Huang, C., Han, S., & Han, A.

complete list of authors

  • Li, Yuwen||Huang, Can||Han, Song-I||Han, Arum

publication date

  • June 2022