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Dielectrophoresis: An Approach to Increase Sensitivity, Reduce Response Time and to Suppress Nonspecific Binding in Biosensors?

Henriksson, Anders; Neubauer, Peter; Birkholz, Mario

The performance of receptor-based biosensors is often limited by either diffusion of the analyte causing unreasonable long assay times or a lack of specificity limiting the sensitivity due to the noise of nonspecific binding. Alternating current (AC) electrokinetics and its effect on biosensing is an increasing field of research dedicated to address this issue and can improve mass transfer of the analyte by electrothermal effects, electroosmosis, or dielectrophoresis (DEP). Accordingly, several works have shown improved sensitivity and lowered assay times by order of magnitude thanks to the improved mass transfer with these techniques. To realize high sensitivity in real samples with realistic sample matrix avoiding nonspecific binding is critical and the improved mass transfer should ideally be specific to the target analyte. In this paper we cover recent approaches to combine biosensors with DEP, which is the AC kinetic approach with the highest selectivity. We conclude that while associated with many challenges, for several applications the approach could be beneficial, especially if more work is dedicated to minimizing nonspecific bindings, for which DEP offers interesting perspectives.
Published in: Biosensors, 10.3390/bios12100784, MDPI