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Home > Research > Archives : Priorités scientifiques jusqu’en 2018 > T2: Biomicrosystems, Bioelectrochemistry and Bioelectromagnetism > Microsystems for biology

Electrical characterization tools of living cells

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A computational tool dedicated to the study of dielectric particle response to AC electric fields: MyDEP

Before performing experiments in the lab with dielectrophoresis (DEP), it is useful to predict the particle and cell responses to the electric field. This requires knowledge of particles or cells properties, which can be obtained from the literature, and implementation of equations related to the particle model.

MyDEP is a computational software, programmed in Java, aiming to study dielectrophoretic behavior of particles and cells in a suspended medium. More precisely the software can calculate and display the Clausius-Mossotti factor (real and imaginary parts) used in DEP for different conditions (Medium, frequency range, model of particle). It can also calculate the equivalent permittivities and conductivities of particles alone and in suspension in a medium thanks to the Maxwell-Garnett and Asami-Hanaï equations. Graphs representing crossover frequencies vs electrical conductivity of the medium are also available.

The program allows the user to specify the electrical as well as the geometrical parameters of the investigated particle. No prior knowledge of the equations behind is required to use the software, which makes it interesting for users non-familiar with DEP. We also provide a database collecting informations from the literature to help the user to start with already existing models. The user can also enrich the database with new information.

The software can be freely downloaded from:

Measurement of single cell electrical properties

Electrorotation is a technique consisting in subjecting a polarisable particle to a uniform rotating electric field, causing it to spin. This tool enables single cell characterization and allows the measurement of membrane and cytoplasm electrical properties. The permittivity and conductivity of these cellular components may be determined by placing the cell in a rotating electric field generated by microelectrodes.
The induced cell rotation rate depends on the cellular properties and on the applied electric field frequency. We have developed an automated experimental platform (field generation, acquisition and image processing, extraction of cell properties) allowing to access the electrical properties of cells (yeast, bacteria, eukaryotes) and cell models (liposomes) thanks to their electrorotation spectra.
These experimental data provide an electrical model of cells for numerical studies of electromagnetic field / cell interaction and can also be used to to detect changes in the physiological state of single cells after a specific treatment.

Related publications

- J. Cottet, O. Fabregue, C. Berger, F. Buret, P. Renaud, and M. Frénéa-Robin. “MyDEP: a new computational tool for dielectric modeling of particles and cells", Biophysical Journal, Volume 116, Issue 1, 2019, Pages 12-18,

- J. Cottet, A. Kehren, H. van Lintel, F. Buret, M. Frénéa-Robin et al. "How to improve the sensitivity of coplanar electrodes and micro channel design in electrical impedance flow cytometry : a study". Microfluidics and Nanofluidics. 2019

- El-Gaddar A., Frénéa-Robin M., Voyer D., Aka H., Haddour N., Krahenbuhl L. « Assessment of 0.5 T static field exposure effect on yeast and HEK cells using electrorotation », Biophys J. 2013 Apr 16;104(8):1805-11

- Voyer D., Frénéa-Robin M., Buret F., and Nicolas L., "Improvements in the extraction of cell electric properties from their electrorotation spectrum," Bioelectrochemistry 2010 79(1): 25-30