Simulation Advances the Design of a Microfluidic Therapeutic Cell Sorter

Robyn Pritchard, The Technology Partnership, United Kingdom

The Technology Partnership (TTP), a firm that consults on technology development, created a vortex-actuated cell sorter (VACS), a device that sorts biological cells in a new, improved, and faster way. Cell sorting is a technique used to treat various diseases, including cancer. The challenge initially was that conventional cell sorters did not have sufficient processing rates to be viable in the real world. Unlike conventional sorters, VACS uses a thermal vapor bubble pulse to inertially manipulate cells. TTP engineers used multiphysics modeling to simulate the microfluidic behavior of bubbles and achieve the desired cell displacement needed for the sorting operation.

Time slices of a cell caught in the vortex of a VACS device, causing the displacement of the cell across the streamlines before the cell eventually enters the sort channel.