Acoustophoresis has become a powerful tool to separate microparticles and cells, based on their material and biophysical properties, and is gaining popularity in clinical and biomedical research. One major application of acoustophoresis is to measure the compressibility of cells and small organisms, which is related to their contents. The cell compressibility can be extracted from the acoustic mobility, which is the main output of acoustic migration experiments, if the material properties and sizes of reference particles, the size of the cells, and the surrounding medium are known. Accurate methods to measure and calibrate the acoustic energy density in acoustophoresis systems are therefore critical. In this Perspective, polystyrene microparticles have become the most commonly used reference particles in acoustophoresis, due to their similar biophysical properties to cells. We utilized a two-step focusing method to measure the relative acoustic mobility of polystyrene beads of various sizes and colors and present a quantitative analysis of the variation in acousto-mechanical properties of polystyrene microparticles, showing a large spread in their material properties. A variation of more than 25% between different particle types was found. Thus, care is required when relying on polystyrene particles as a reference when characterizing acoustofluidics systems or acousto-mechanical properties of cells.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Other Medical Biotechnology