P16083: Automated Microfluidic Cell Separator

Problem Definition

Table of Contents

Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase

We plan to establish well known constraints that our device must stay within in order to move forward in the design process. This requires acquiring a customer, proper communication with the customer through interviews and adequate feedback, a basic understanding of the technology to be used by all team members, and well documented customer requirements. These things will help translate the customers idea to a working prototype.

Problem Statement

A cell separator is a device that separates cells in a mixture based upon pre-established criteria (biomarkers, size, electrical characteristics, etc.). This is necessary in many cell culture and diagnostic applications where downstream processes occur after cell culture, such as purification or analysis. Optimally, this device should not interfere with the viability or characteristics of the cells, while still being cost effective. Current cell separation devices require some sort of labeling (either fluorescent or magnetic) which is not only costly but can affect cell behavior and mortality. We propose an automated microfluidic system that utilizes developing technologies (dielectrophoretics) to reduce costs drastically while maintaining cell viability.

The goals of this project are to develop a system that not only sorts cells without the use of labeling, but also fits within a biosafety cabinet, is self-driven, and is automated (hands-off once the sample is loaded and sequence has started). The expected result is a functional prototype that fits all of the goals above and is suitable for use in a teaching laboratory. The design and prototype must conform to intellectual property and diagnostic laboratory standards so that it may be marketed this as a definitive step forwards in cell separation technology.

Use Cases

General Use Scenario

public/Photo Gallery/Use Scenario_Customer.jpg

Potential Use Scenario

This may be possible with further product development.

public/Photo Gallery/Use Scenario_Medical Field.jpg

Customer Requirements (Needs)

public/Photo Gallery/CustomerRequirementsSnapshot.JPG

Customer Interview Notes

Engineering Requirements (Metrics & Specifications)

public/Photo Gallery/EngineeringRequirementsSnapshot.jpg

Project Goals and Key Deliverables

A working prototype that can:

Documentation of the prototype that illustrates:


House of Quality

Design Review Materials

Plans for next phase


Project Management

Project Photos and Videos

Imagine RIT

Planning & Execution

Problem Definition

Systems Design

Subsystem Design

Preliminary Detailed Design

Detailed Design

Build & Test Prep

Subsystem Build & Test

Integrated System Build & Test

Integrated System Build & Test with Customer Demo

Customer Handoff & Final Project Documentation