Electronic Sonotweezers: Particle Manipulation with Ultrasonic Arrays

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering & the Environment

Abstract

We have carefully planned this research programme to pioneer a wholly new capability in ultrasonic particle manipulation to allow electronic sonotweezers to take their place alongside optical tweezers, dielectrophoresis and other techniques in the present and future particle manipulation toolkit.Following end-user demand, particle manipulation is a rapidly growing field, notably applied to the life sciences, with emerging applications in analysis and sorting, measurement of cell forces and tissue engineering. Existing devices have valuable capabilities but also limits in terms of forces that can be produced and measured, particle sizes that can be handled, their range of compatible buffer characteristics and sensitivity to heating, and suitability for integration with sensors in low cost devices. Key to our programme is the concept of dynamic potential energy landscapes and the established ability of ultrasound to create such landscapes, potentially to generate forces under electronic / computer control. Our principal technical aim is to exploit this in integrated sonotweezers to apply and measure larger forces over longer length scales, extend micromanipulation to larger particles, and demonstrate this in pathfinder applications in life sciences.To achieve our aims, we have already carried out successful feasibility studies and brought together an outstanding multidisciplinary team of investigators including internationally established members, some of the UK's most exciting young scientists and engineers, and appropriate overseas collaborators. Such a team is a prerequisite for what we recognise as a challenging, highly complex, densely interlinked programme. Over its four years, with strong management and built-in research flexibility, we will explore key areas of science, technology and applications to create and demonstrate electronic sonotweezers. Throughout the work, there will be parallel activity in understanding of physical principles, modelling and design, state-of-the-art fabrication, sensor integration, and applications testing.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Across the consortium as a whole we have developed new ways of using ultrasonics to manipulate particles and cells in a much more dexterous way than was previously possible. In Southampton in particular, the technologies have been used for growing human cartilage tissue in a special bioreactor that levitates the cells and stimulates them mechanically. We have also shown that the technology can be used to grow layered tissue structures outside of the body and are developing this further for studying cell behaviour in conditions such as asthma.
Exploitation Route We are developing the cartilage work for use with stem cells and we believe that the layered tissue constructs have the potential to replace animal experiments in some stages of research into lung pathologies.
Sectors Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

 
Description The work has provoked significant media interest across the consortium as a whole. The Southampton work has led to several media interviews and subsequently to setting up displays to exhibit the underlying technology for public engagement. This has been included in many events including the Royal Society Summer Exhibition and the Cheltenham Science Festival.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Creative Economy,Other
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Application of a custom-built acoustofluidic perfusion bioreactor to model physiological differentiation of human embryonic stem cells and bioengineer neocartilage explants
Amount £29,799 (GBP)
Organisation Rosetrees Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2018
 
Description Application of a custom-built acoustofluidic perfusion bioreactor to model physiological differentiation of human embryonic stem cells and bioengineer neocartilage explants
Amount £64,827 (GBP)
Organisation University of Southampton 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2015 
End 09/2018
 
Description Aquality
Amount £199,844 (GBP)
Funding ID 286601 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 06/2012 
End 11/2013
 
Description Development of a human tissue based model of the airway using cell sheet engineering.
Amount £80,000 (GBP)
Organisation Wessex Medical Research 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2015 
End 09/2019
 
Description High-throughput Optical Blood Imaging for the Detection of Rare Cells using Ultrasonic Particle Alignment
Amount £94,181 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K027115/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2013 
End 12/2014
 
Description Ultrasonic, microfluidic HPLC-chip and mass spectrometry technologies
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Organisation Agilent Technologies 
Sector Private
Country United States
Start 10/2012 
End 04/2013
 
Description DSTL Porton Down 
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Continued development of bacterial detection methods of interest to DSTL
Collaborator Contribution Support with technical advice, attendance at meetings and provision of samples.
Impact Multidisciplinary - Engineering and Biotechnology. Early engagement with DSTL contributed to the establishment of the DSTL spinout ProKyma
Start Year 2006
 
Description Cheltenham Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 6000 visitors interacted with our exhibits focussed on the biological applications of acoustic particle manipulation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/science
 
Description Media Interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Live radio interview with BBC Radio Solent. Early evening show 09/06/2014
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Press release 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Press release entitled "Southampton researchers help develop gravity-defying ultrasonic tweezers that could lead to life-changing medical advances". Led to further media enquiries
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.southampton.ac.uk/engineering/news/2014/06/03_ultrasonic_tweezers.page
 
Description Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 15,000 members of the public visited our exhibit at Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2014, "The hidden world of ultrasonic waves".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://royalsociety.org/summer-science/