Air-flow-based single-cell dispensing system

Tomohiro Kawahara, Shigeo Ohashi, Masaya Hagiwara, Yoko Yamanishi, Fumihito Arai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


We discuss a design and fabrication approach to increase the success rate of single-cell dispensing. Two pairs of capacitance sensors are placed in a biochip to detect the flow velocity of cells and air pressure is applied to eject cells by synchronizing the timing. A comprehensive design theory, which takes into account the back-pressure caused by the air pressure, the response time of the system, the sensor properties and the delay of the dispensing from the air pressure, is developed in order to minimize the disturbance of the system and maximize the throughput of the ejection system. Then, the system theoretically has a capability to eject 3 cells/s and the maximum flow velocity is 10 mm/s. The novelty of the system is that the biochip is disposable, which is unlike the conventional mechanical inkjet system; because the biochip is low cost and disposable this prevents contamination and means the drive system is reusable. Finally, we succeeded in automatic dispensing of a single polystyrene bead (100 μm) from a biochip to a culture well atmosphere using the developed cell ejection system with a success rate of 50%. Furthermore, we also succeeded in single swine oocyte dispensing by using the developed system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-306
Number of pages16
JournalAdvanced Robotics
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Cell dispensing
  • air flow
  • capacitance sensor
  • inkjet mechanism
  • microchip

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Science Applications


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