Researchers at the IIT-Kharagpur have developed an energy-efficient method that could support a wide range of applications in clinical and biological research.
Biological cells can be patterned by using the heat generated in closed electrical fields with the help of this method, the researchers said on Saturday.
Cell patterning -- the process to position cells on a surface -- is crucial for fundamental research and development in cellular biology and also for developing applications related to tissue engineering, neuron network formation, protein patterning, designing of cell-based biosensor and drug development, among others.
The 'Microfluidics' research group led by professor Suman Chakraborty made a breakthrough in this area, the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur said.
"We have effectively innovated a unique patterning of electrodes on a glass plate," Chakraborty said.
"We have exploited the inter-connection of the electric field and temperature. The chip design triggers a favourable electrical force which guides cell patterning," said professor Anandaroop Bhattacharya, an expert in thermal engineering and part of the research group.
Explaining the process, Chakraborty said that the feat was achieved in a rather simple way, by attaching a thin insulating layer with a drilled narrow hole on a bottom electrode of the chip.
The pioneering work was recently published in 'Analytical Chemistry', a flagship journal of the American Chemical Society.
On the probable uses of the technology, first author of the paper Golak Kunti said, "Patterning of biological objects is the fundamental premise of probing cell-to-cell interactions, bio-printing, drug development and image-based cell selection, among others."