Low-Cost, Multiplexed Microfluidic Force Spectroscopy on-a-Chip

A novel, low-cost, and massively-parallel force spectroscopy strategy that leverages microfluidic technology to dynamically test strength of molecular binding interactions to enable quick, full characterization of a molecular interaction of interest.

The Need

Development of several force spectroscopy strategies have enabled characterization of various types of molecular binding interactions with applications in biophysics, molecular biology and medicine. Despite various efforts to decrease the cost of force spectroscopy, full characterization of a molecular interaction of interest remains cost prohibitive for most laboratories. In addition, there is significant need for quick characterization of a molecular interaction of interest that does not require lengthy periods of sample preparation and analysis. Microfluidics technology along with the use of fluid flow to controllably apply force on molecular levels can help address the mentioned needs to reduce the total cost and experimental time of molecular force spectroscopy.

The Technology

A recent collaborative research effort between the Nanoengineering and Biodesign Laboratory led by Dr. Carlos Castro and Microsystems for Mechanobiology and Medicine Laboratory led by Dr. Jonathan Song at department of mechanical engineering at the Ohio State University has resulted in the development of a novel, low-cost and massively parallel force spectroscopy technology that enables quick, full characterization of a molecular interaction of interest. This method leverages a microfluidic loading on a chip (FLOChip) that allows for controlled, simultaneous application of four levels of molecular forces on up to ~4000 interaction of interest, enabling its complete dynamic characterization. Moreover, utilization of fluid flow and PDMS-based microfluidics results in ~3-fold decrease in total experimental cost compared to alternative force spectroscopy strategies with similar levels of throughput. In addition, the ability to apply multiple levels of molecular force simultaneously results in significantly faster total time of experimentation and analysis in comparison to alternative strategies available. Using FLOChip, the researchers have demonstrated successful full characterization of several molecular binding interactions, including double stranded DNA and antibody-antigen binding strength.

Commercial Applications

  • Single molecule analysis
  • Force spectroscopy
  • Molecular biochemistry and biophysics
  • Aptamer development and optimization
  • Medicine
  • Diagnostics


  • Lowered total cost
  • Simplified experimentation
  • Fast preparation and analysis
  • Multiplexed force application
  • High sensitivity

Patent Filing(s)

PCT filed

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