Dielectrophoresis-field flow fractionation for separation of particles: A critical review

Waqas Waheed, Omar Z. Sharaf, Anas Alazzam*, Eiyad Abu-Nada

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Dielectrophoresis-field flow fractionation (DEP-FFF) has emerged as an efficient in-vitro, non-invasive, and label-free mechanism to manipulate a variety of nano- and micro-scaled particles in a continuous-flow manner. The technique is mainly used to fractionate particles/cells based on differences in their sizes and/or dielectric properties by employing dielectrophoretic force as an external force field applied perpendicular to the flow direction. The dielectrophoretic force is the result of a spatially non-uniform electric field in the microchannel that can be generated either by exploiting microchannel geometry or using special arrangements of microelectrode arrays. Several two-dimensional (e.g., coplanar interdigitated, castellated) and three-dimensional (e.g., top-bottom, side-wall) microelectrode designs have been successfully utilized to perform fractionation of heterogeneous samples. Although originally introduced as a separation technique, DEP-FFF has attracted increasing interest in performing other important operations such as switching, focusing, dipping, and surface functionalization of target particles. Nonetheless, the technique still suffers from limitations such as low throughput and joule heating. By comparatively analyzing recent developments that address these shortcomings, this work is a step forward towards realizing the full potential of DEP-FFF as an ideal candidate for point-of-care (POC) devices with diverse applications in the fields of biomedical, chemical, and environmental engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Article number461799
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Early online date11 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2021


  • blood cells
  • cancer cells
  • dielectrophoresis
  • Field flow fractionation
  • microfluidics
  • particles
  • separation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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