Single cell trapping in larger microwells capable of supporting cell spreading and proliferation

Joong Yull Park, Mina Morgan, Aaron N. Sachs, Julia Samorezov, Ryan Teller, Ye Shen, Kenneth J. Pienta, Shuichi Takayama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Conventional cell trapping methods using microwells with small dimensions (10-20 μm) are useful for examining the instantaneous cell response to reagents; however, such wells have insufficient space for longer duration screening tests that require observation of cell attachment and division. Here we describe a flow method that enables single cell trapping in microwells with dimensions of 50 μm, a size sufficient to allow attachment and division of captured cells. Among various geometries tested, triangular microwells were found to be most efficient for single cell trapping while providing ample space for cells to grow and spread. An important trapping mechanism is the formation of fluid streamlines inside, rather than over, the microwells. A strong flow recirculation occurs in the triangular microwell so that it efficiently catches cells. Once a cell is captured, the cell presence in the microwell changes the flow pattern, thereby preventing trapping of other cells. About 62% of microwells were filled with single cells after a 20 min loading procedure. Human prostate cancer cells (PC3) were used for validation of our system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-268
Number of pages6
JournalMicrofluidics and Nanofluidics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Continuous flow
  • Microwell
  • Recirculation
  • Single cell trapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry


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