Selective Manipulation of Biomolecules with Insulator-Based Dielectrophoretic Tweezers

Insulator-based dielectrophoretic (iDEP) trapping, separating, and concentrating nanoscale objects is carried out using a nonmetal, unbiased, mobile tip acting as a tweezers. The spatial control and manipulation of fluorescently labeled polystyrene particles and DNA were performed to demonstrate the feasibility of the iDEP tweezers. Frequency-dependent iDEP tweezers’ strength and polarity were quantitatively determined using two theoretical approaches to DNA, which resulted in a factor of 2–40 differences between them. In either approach, the strength of iDEP was at least 4 orders of magnitude stronger than the thermal force, indicating iDEP was a dominant force for trapping, holding, and separating DNA. The trapping strength and volume of the iDEP tweezers were also determined, which further supports direct capture and manipulation of DNA at the tip end.