A self-filling microfluidic device for noninvasive and time-resolved single red blood cell experiments

Michael Göllner, Adriana C. Toma, Natalja Strelnikova, Siddharth Deshpande, Thomas Pfohl*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Existing approaches to red blood cell (RBC) experiments on the single-cell level usually rely on chemical or physical manipulations that often cause difficulties with preserving the RBC's integrity in a controlled microenvironment. Here, we introduce a straightforward, self-filling microfluidic device that autonomously separates and isolates single RBCs directly from unprocessed human blood samples and confines them in diffusion-controlled microchambers by solely exploiting their unique intrinsic properties. We were able to study the photo-induced oxygenation cycle of single functional RBCs by Raman microscopy without the limitations typically observed in optical tweezers based methods. Using bright-field microscopy, our noninvasive approach further enabled the time-resolved analysis of RBC flickering during the reversible shape evolution from the discocyte to the echinocyte morphology. Due to its specialized geometry, our device is particularly suited for studying the temporal behavior of single RBCs under precise control of their environment that will provide important insights into the RBC's biomedical and biophysical properties.

Original languageEnglish
Article number054121
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


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