Fabrication of microfluidic tools for manipulation and analysis of (single) cells

Scope of the method

The Method relates to
  • Animal health
  • Environment
  • Human health
The Method is situated in
  • Basic Research
  • Translational - Applied Research
Type of method
  • In vitro - Ex vivo
This method makes use of
  • Other (e.g. bacteria)
Several types of cells can be manipulated and studied, ranging from bacterial cells to yeast cells, animal cells and even human cells


Method keywords
  • Microfabrication
  • Molding
  • Imprinting
  • Single cell manipulation
  • Single cell analysis
  • High-throughput
Scientific area keywords
  • Lab-on-a-chip
  • Droplet-based microfluidics
  • Digital microfluidics
  • Optical tweezers
  • Microwell arrays
  • Single cell studies
Method description

Design and fabrication of microfluidic devices that allow manipulation and analysis of (single) cells. Droplet-based as well as digital microfluidics can be applied and are suitable for a wide variety of (non-adherent) cells. Different materials can be used for the fabrication of the microfluidic devices (PDMS, OSTE+, glass combined with Teflon, …), depending on the type of microfluidics required and their compatibility with the cells. Interesting (single) cells, seeded in either droplets or microwells, can be manipulated and collected for analysis, e.g. based on their reaction towards certain stimuli. As such, these platforms have been used already for, among others, cytotoxicity studies of single yeast cells and manipulation of single human cells using optical tweezers to allow sequencing on the single cell level.

Method status
  • Still in development
  • Published in peer reviewed journal

Pros, cons & Future potential


Microfluidic-based manipulation and analysis of cells allows high-throughput (single) cell studies with low sample and reagent consumption. Cells of interest can be collected easily in order to enable further analysis on the single cell level, thereby revealing new insights in cell behavior or composition.


Most current microfluidic setups still require additional devices for liquid manipulation, such as microfluidic pumps, and signal analysis, such as microscopes. Nevertheless, for studies performed in a research environment, several easy-to-use devices are readily available.


The microfluidic devices can be designed to fit the specific needs.

References, associated documents and other information

Website KU Leuven - Biosensors group


Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL)
Department of Biosystems - Biosensors group
Flemish Region