Harmonic acoustofluidics for non-contact, dynamic, selective (HANDS) particle manipulation

Unmet Need

Precise and selective manipulation of microscale particles and cells in liquid suspension (colloidal mixture) is a challenge in the fields of biomedicine and materials science. Current methods for the assembly of colloidal matter into microscale particles include DNA linkers, liquid solvents, complex anisotropic particles, and others. These methods present many limitations. Most critically, they are unable to precisely manipulate single cells and small colloidal particles, which prevents their application towards understanding cell-cell interactions and/or the formation of ordered biological structures. Thus, there is a need for a novel biocompatible platform that can precisely and selectively manipulate colloids and biological cells.


Duke inventors have developed a novel platform for the precise and selective manipulation of colloids and biological cells. This platform, called harmonic acoustofluidics for non-contact, dynamic, selective particle manipulation(HANDS), is intended to be used to manipulate soft matter, including microscale colloids and cells. Specifically, this platform incorporates time-effective Fourier-synthesized harmonics to generate reconfigurable acoustic lattices and spatial control of particles and cells suspended in liquid. This platform has been shown to achieve the formation, reconfiguration, and precise rotational control of colloidal crystals and soft condensed matter. Furthermore, by modulating the frequency or amplitude of multi-harmonic waves, researchers can actively control the lattice constant, which allows for the precise, programmable, and repeatable pairing or separation of target cells with tunable intercellular distances, as well as for the collective manipulation of an array of colloidal clusters or cells.

Other Applications

This technology could also be used to create flexible lattices that may promote discovery of colloidal and photonic crystals. In addition, it could be applied to providing deeper insight to intercellular adhesion forces, predicting cancer metastasis, establishing platforms for personalized medicine, and/or organoid engineering.


  • precise and selective handling of microscale particles and cells
  • biocompatible
  • does not require surface treatment or modifying particle material properties
  • reversible manipulation of cells and particles
  • high-throughput; 100x higher throughput than existing available single-cell manipulation techniques (force microscopy, micropipette aspiration, optical tweezers)