Modeling the efficiency of a magnetic needle for collecting magnetic cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • As new magnetic nanoparticle-based technologies are developed and new target cells are identified, there is a critical need to understand the features important for magnetic isolation of specific cells in fluids, an increasingly important tool in disease research and diagnosis. To investigate magnetic cell collection, cell-sized spherical microparticles, coated with superparamagnetic nanoparticles, were suspended in (1) glycerine-water solutions, chosen to approximate the range of viscosities of bone marrow, and (2) water in which 3, 5, 10 and 100% of the total suspended microspheres are coated with magnetic nanoparticles, to model collection of rare magnetic nanoparticle-coated cells from a mixture of cells in a fluid. The magnetic microspheres were collected on a magnetic needle, and we demonstrate that the collection efficiency versus time can be modeled using a simple, heuristically-derived function, with three physically-significant parameters. The function enables experimentally-obtained collection efficiencies to be scaled to extract the effective drag of the suspending medium. The results of this analysis demonstrate that the effective drag scales linearly with fluid viscosity, as expected. Surprisingly, increasing the number of non-magnetic microspheres in the suspending fluid results increases the collection of magnetic microspheres, corresponding to a decrease in the effective drag of the medium.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014