Biological research often deals with very small, sensitive samples such as small tissue samples or individual cells. The handling of these micrometer-sized samples requires the use of miniaturized grippers with gripper jaws in the size-scale of the manipulated objects.
The FT-MTA03 Micromechanical Testing and Assembly Station in combination with a FT-G103 and a FT-G33 gripper is used for handling HeLa cancer cells inside a fluid channel covered by a glass slide (open on both sides). The FT-G Microgrippers are based on electrostatic actuation. Therefore, the arms of the FT-G Microgrippers do not heat up during actuation. Also, the gripper arms are electrically insulated from the actual actuation mechanism and have a length of 3 mm. This allows the gripper to be submerged into liquid by up to about 2 mm and allows the handling of biological samples without causing damage to the cells or tissue.
Besides simple handling tasks, the system can also be used for the mechanical testing and sorting of biological cells. Therefore, the cells are compressed using the microgripper. While the applied force is measured with the integrated gripping force sensor, the deformation of the cell is observed using the microscope. By correlating the applied force and the deformation, the mechanical properties of the cell, such as it stiffness is extracted.