Dielectrophoretic separation of randomly shaped protein particles

Tae Joon Kwak, Huihun Jung, Benjamin D. Allen, Melik C. Demirel, Woo Jin Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Recently, insoluble protein particles have been increasingly investigated for artificial drug delivery systems due to their favorable properties, including programmability for active drug targeting of diseases as well as their biocompatibility and biodegradability after administration. One of the biggest challenges is selectively collecting desirable self-repairable particles in the spherical morphology with monodispersity to enable consistent levels and rates of drug loading and release. Therefore, technology that allows sorting of protein particles with respect to size and morphology will enhance the design and production of next-generation drug delivery materials. Here, we introduce a dielectrophoretic (DEP) separation technique to selectively isolate spherical protein particles from a mixture of randomly shaped particles. We tested this approach by applying it to a mixture of precipitated squid ring teeth inspired tandem repeat protein particles with diverse sizes and morphologies. The DEP trapping system enabled us to isolate specific-sized, spherical protein particles out of this mixture: after separation, the fraction of 2 µm and 4 µm spherical particles was increased from 28.64% of mixture to 80.53% and 74.02% with polydispersity indexes (PDIs) decreased from 0.93 of mixture to 0.19 and 0.09, respectively. The protein particles show high aqueous swelling capability (up to 74% by mass) that could enable delivery of drug solutions. This work is intended to inspire the future development of biocompatible drug-delivery systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118280
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
StatePublished - May 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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