Applying optics, electronics, and fluid dynamics, the Lo lab develops enabling technologies that reduce the cost and improve the reliability of lab-on-a-chip devices and collaborates with clinicians to design compact, high-performance medical imaging devices for surgery and ophthalmology. Their lab-on-a-chip efforts focus on cell separations to enable clinical diagnosis, single-cell sequencing, and microbiome analysis, among others. This research could significantly impact healthcare in the developing world by enabling mass production of inexpensive, portable diagnostic devices.
The Lo group are leaders in the field of microchip-based cell sorting, as they introduced the first highly integrated system, which overcame numerous prior limitations. By incorporating piezoelectric actuation, they greatly increased the rate of cell processing, and by embedding a means of sensing particles’ speed and location and a chip to translate that information into a change in the applied electric field, they minimized both loss of target cells and inclusion of non-target cells. Since this breakthrough in 2010, the lab has adapted this technology to specific applications, including sorting of single types of bacteria to enable genomic sequencing of non-culturable species and white blood cell quantification in whole blood. For blood analysis, a means of sorting cells based on size and stiffness rather than fluorescent labeling was established; future generations of the device could be extremely useful for point-of-care characterization of immune function.
A more generalizable advance by Lo’s team is their introduction of a means to wirelessly power microfluidic devices through a printed circuit and an RFID reader. Such simple control would make use of such devices by clinicians even more straightforward by eliminating the need for connection of multiple wires. The concept was demonstrated in combination with dielectrophoresis, which is used for detection and sorting of cells, proteins, or DNA.
A related area of the Lo lab’s research is engineering photodetectors for improved sensitivity, which could be integrated into future cell-sorting microdevices or for an immense variety of other applications, from DNA sequencing to telecommunications to quantum computing. Their work in this area employs numerous amplification mechanisms to overcome the inherent limits of semiconductor materials, with the eventual goal of detecting single photons.
Wu TF, Yen TM, Han Y, Chiu YJ, Lin EY, Lo YH. A light-sheet microscope compatible with mobile devices for label-free intracellular imaging and biosensing. Lab Chip 2014; 14: 3341-3348.
W Qiao, G Cho, YH Lo. Wirelessly powered microfluidic dielectrophoresis devices using printable RF circuits. Lab Chip 2011; 11(6): 1074-80.