We describe a microchannel device which utilizes a novel approach to obtain area and volume measurements on many individual red blood cells. Red cells are aspirated into the microchannels much as a single red blood cell is aspirated into a micropipette. Inasmuch as there are thousands of identical microchannels with defined geometry, data for many individual red cells can be rapidly acquired, and the fundamental heterogeneity of cell membrane biophysics can be analyzed. Fluorescent labels can be used to quantify red cell surface and cytosolic features of interest simultaneously with the measurement of area and volume for a given cell. Experiments that demonstrate and evaluate the microchannel measuring capabilities are presented and potential improvements and extensions are discussed.
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