Impedance spectroscopy for label-free cell analysis

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Inflammation Infection and Repair


The aim of this project is to take a newly developed cell analysis technology (micro impedance spectroscopy) and use it to study a variety of important cellular response and pathologies. Examples include cellular reactions to toxic compounds, response to viral infection as well as cell aging and death.

Technical Summary

Impedance spectroscopy (IS) represents a powerful label-free method for cell analysis. The technique allows quantitative measurement of the inherent electrical and dielectric properties of cells; such as membrane capacitance, membrane resistance, cytoplasmic conductivity and permittivity. These properties directly reflect the cell?s biological structure and metabolic state. Widespread use of IS has been limited by the technical complexity and time consuming nature of the measurement process. AC electrokinetic techniques such as electrorotatio have allowed researchers to measure cell dielectric properties, at the single cell level, however it takes many minutes to measure each cell. The applicants have recently developed a high throughput IS technology, microFACS, capable of rapidly measuring the dielectric properties of individual cells in a flow though format similar to that of a traditional flow cytometer ( 1000 cells per second). The aim of this proposal is to take this novel high throughput single cell impedance spectroscopy technology and apply it to the study of the physiological processes involved in cell activation, proliferation and death.


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Title Impedance based analysis techniques and methodologies. 
Description Impedance based analysis techniques were developed during the project to allow the identification of antigenically defined cell populations. High throughput microfluidic impedance analysis of cell physiology and viability was demonstrated and methodologies for performing such analysis established (currently being prepared for publication). 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Proof of concept demonstrating the efficacy of impedance based analysis for monitoring cells. This work is likely to lead to the development of new cell analysis tools. 
Description Press release, web-based news articles 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A press release was issued by the University of Southampton to publicise the publication of our article demonstrating the label free analysis of blood cells (Holmes et al LabChip 2009). This press release was widely picked up by the general media (Radio Solent, web-based news articles) and also in the scientific media. This resulted in a number of articles about this work and the ongoing MRC funded work (e.g. Daniel Irimia. Cutting edge: Electronic counting of white blood cells. Lab Chip, 2009, 9, 2875 - 2876).

none stated
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009