In a two-dimensional periodic but asymmetric environment, a Brownian particle that is driven in one direction by a potential gradient will also drift in the orthogonal direction at a rate that depends on its diffusion coefficient. On this basis, we propose a new method for separating biological macromolecules according to size. A fine stream of molecules is electrophoresed through a microfabricated sieve, etched from a silicon chip by lithography. The sieve consists of a periodic array of oblong obstacles, which deflect the molecules so that each species follows a different trajectory, oblique to the flow. Advantages promised by the technique include improved efficiency, continuous sorting and ready automation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Physics and Astronomy