Skip to main content

Microfluidic single-cell calorimetry Research Applications

By 9th November 2020No Comments

The following study was conducted by Scientists from Materials Science and Engineering Program, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA; Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA,USA; Department of Bioengineering, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA; Department of Pharmacology, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA. Study is published in Nature Communications Journal as detailed below.

Nature Communications; Volume 11, Article Number: 2982; (2020)

Sub-Nanowatt Microfluidic Single-Cell Calorimetry


Non-invasive and label-free calorimetry could become a disruptive technique to study single cell metabolic heat production without altering the cell behavior, but it is currently limited by insufficient sensitivity. Here, we demonstrate microfluidic single-cell calorimetry with 0.2-nW sensitivity, representing more than ten-fold enhancement over previous record, which is enabled by (i) a low-noise thermometry platform with ultralow long-term (10-h) temperature noise (80 μK) and (ii) a microfluidic channel-in-vacuum design allowing cell flow and nutrient delivery while maintaining a low thermal conductance of 2.5 μW K−1. Using Tetrahymena thermophila as an example, we demonstrate on-chip single-cell calorimetry measurement with metabolic heat rates ranging from 1 to 4 nW, which are found to correlate well with the cell size. Finally, we perform real-time monitoring of metabolic rate stimulation by introducing a mitochondrial uncoupling agent to the microchannel, enabling determination of the spare respiratory capacity of the cells.


Nature Communications



Hong, S., E. Dechaumphai, et al. (2020). “Sub-nanowatt microfluidic single-cell calorimetry.” Nature Communications 11(1): 2982.