Spatially variant red blood cell crenation in alternating current non-uniform fields

Document Type


Publication Date



© 2014 AIP Publishing LLC. Alternating-current (AC) electrokinetics involve the movement and behaviors of particles or cells. Many applications, including dielectrophoretic manipulations, are dependent upon charge interactions between the cell or particle and the surrounding medium. Medium concentrations are traditionally treated as spatially uniform in both theoretical models and experiments. Human red blood cells (RBCs) are observed to crenate, or shrink due to changing osmotic pressure, over 10min experiments in non-uniform AC electric fields. Cell crenation magnitude is examined as functions of frequency from 250 kHz to 1 MHz and potential from 10 Vpp to 17.5 Vpp over a 100 lm perpendicular electrode gap. Experimental results show higher peak to peak potential and lower frequency lead to greater cell volume crenation up to a maximum volume loss of 20%. A series of experiments are conducted to elucidate the physical mechanisms behind the red blood cell crenation. Non-uniform and uniform electrode systems as well as high and low ion concentration experiments are compared and illustrate that AC electroporation, system temperature, rapid temperature changes, medium pH, electrode reactions, and convection do not account for the crenation behaviors observed. AC electroosmotic was found to be negligible at these conditions and AC electrothermal fluid flows were found to reduce RBC crenation behaviors. These cell deformations were attributed to medium hypertonicity induced by ion concentration gradients in the spatially nonuniform AC electric fields.

Publication Title