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Optical propulsion of mammalian eukaryotic cells on an integrated channel waveguide

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The optical propulsion of mammalian eukaryotic cells along the surface of an integrated channel waveguide is demonstrated. 10μm diameter polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) spherical particles and similarly sized mammalian eukaryotic cells in aqueous medium are deposited in a reservoir over a caesium ion-exchanged channel waveguide. Light from a fibre laser at 1064nm was coupled into the waveguide, causing the polymer particles or cells to be propelled along the waveguide at a velocity which is dependent upon the laser power. A theoretical model was used to predict the propulsion velocity as a function of the refractive index of the particle. The experimental results obtained for the PMMA particles and the mammalian cells show that for input powers greater than 50mW the propulsion velocity is approximately that obtained by the theoretical model. For input powers of less than ~50mW neither particles nor cells were propelled; this is considered to be a result of surface forces (which are not considered in the theoretical model). The results are discussed in light of the potential application of optical channel waveguides for bioanalytical applications, namely in the identification and sorting of mammalian cells from mixed populations without the need for fluorescence or antibody labels.

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