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DEPtech 3DEP Reader

A Dielectrophoresis Cell Anaylsis System

The 3DEP system

uses a patented chip design which is low cost, simple to use and allows the analysis of thousands of cells simultaneously.


Low cost disposable chips suitable for a large range of cell types from large myocytes to bacteria.


Applications include cancer diagnostics, monitoring apoptosis, stem-cell differentiation, drug discovery, in-vitro toxicology and many more.

3 dep

3DEP Technology explained


  • The 3DEP is a cell analysis system that analyses several thousand cells simultaneously and produces an output that allows their electrical properties to be determined.  It comprises a disposable chip into which the cells are inserted for analysis, and a reader into which the loaded chips are placed.  This revolutionary device then uses a phenomenon called dielectrophoresis (abbreviated DEP) to analyse up to 20,000 cells in 10 seconds.
  • The 3DEP is the first instrument to market, capable of measuring the electrical properties of populations of cells.
  • In order to analyse cells, the 3DEP uses a patented chip containing 20 “wells”, each carrying a number of electrodes down the inside.  The electrodes in each well receives a different frequency signal, allowing 20 frequencies (user-selectable, between 1kHz and 45MHz) to be analysed simultaneously.  When the frequencies are applied to the wells, the cells inside the well moves due to dielectrophoresis.  If they experience “positive DEP” (that is, they are attracted to the electrodes) the cells move from the centre of the well towards the edge; if repelled from the electrodes they move towards the centre of the well.  With a new cell types there is always scope for optimising the exposure time to produce the best fit (highest R) but we have found that in most cases, a 10 second exposure produces highly satisfactory results.


“The lab of Nathan S. Swami at the University of Virginia, which is focused on the device, circuit and signal processing hierarchies for the electrokinetic characterization and microfluidic manipulation of biosystems, uses the 3DEP reader to acquire preliminary dielectrophoretic spectra on stem cells and infectious microbials for subsequent application towards their separation. More details are available within recent publications ( Anal Chem (2014), 86, 10855–10863; Lab Chip (2014), 14, 4183 – 4187; and Analyst (2014) 139, 66-73 )