Microfluidic chip cell sorter: On-chip® Sort - Microfluidic Chip-Based Gentle Cell Sorter, Single Cell & Cluster Dispenser | On-chip Bio

Microfluidic chip cell sorter: On-chip® Sort

On-chip® Sort is the world’s first microfluidic chip-based cell sorter. Integrating the processes of sample detection, separation, and collection within a microfluidic chip has realized a small footprint and easy-to-use cell sorter. This system contributes to the analysis and sorting of a wide range of samples including fragile cells, cell clusters, microorganisms and emulsion droplets. Our microfluidic technology allows for sorting of variety of sample types including those that were impossible to sort using conventional cell sorters. On-chip® Sort will expand the range of sample analysis and contribute to many areas of science research and to a variety of industries.



High throughput screening of microorganisms and cells

Screening of environmental microbes, antibody-producing cells, and mutant strains using droplets.


Sorting of cells damage-free

Isolation of cells and large particles vulnerable to stress.


Sorting of rare cells

Ensuring the enrichment of rare cells— even one cell in 10⁷ cells.


Sorting of cell clusters and large particles

Isolation of cells and large clusters up to 130 μm.


Sorting of water-in-oil emulsion droplets

Isolation of water-in-oil emulsion droplets with oil as the sheath fluid due to the ability to use any sheath fluid of your choice.



All-in-one processing of analysis and sorting with a microfluidic chip

On-chip® Sort integrates the entire process from sample analysis to separation on a small microfluidic chip with measurements of 5.5 cm × 4.0 cm.


In contrast to Jet-in-air and cuvette-hybrid sorting methods used on conventional cell sorters, the Flow Shift method of On-chip® Sort does not cause damage to cells due to the use of less than flow speed of 1 m/s and pressure of 0.3 psi. The Flow Shift method sorts a target cell by generating a short liquid pulse by pressurization of air to deflect the target cell into the collection reservoir (patent Nos. US10101261, US10222317, US10724938, and US10648899).











Easy and maintenance-free operation

On-chip® Sort’s workflow requires no waiting time and operation is easy and user-friendly.

Maintenance and cleaning are not required on On-chip® Sort as all the solutions on the microfluidic chip are driven by air and hence no liquid will be in contact with any parts of the instrument.




Compact and contamination-free

On-chip® Sort is compact enough to be installed in a biosafety cabinet.

Sample analysis and sorting are contamination-free due to the use of disposable microfluidic chips.

Wide selection of samples and sheath fluids and sample solutions

As cells are sorted using regulation of liquid flow inside the microchannels, hence a wide range of liquids can be used as sample and sheath fluids, including culture medium and oil.


Sample examples:                           Sheath fluid examples:
– Animal cells                                    – Culture medium
– Plant cells                                       – Isotonic solution
– Protists                                            – Seawater and freshwater
– Bacteria / fungi                              – Oil
– Droplets                                          – Highly viscous culture medium


Optical technology

The sample flowing through the microfluidic channel is irradiated with up to three separate lasers from the top of the microfluidic chip.

Forward-scattered light (FSC), an indicator of the size of the sample particles, and side-scattered light (SSC), an indicator of the complexity of the internal structure, are acquired. The SSC acquisition with a microfluidic chip is our proprietary technology (patent No. 5382852).

Fluorescence is detected with high sensitivity in a wide range by up to six separate detectors (FL).

 Application 1: Sorting of droplets containing encapsulated cells

On-chip® Sort is capable of sorting water-in-oil (W/O) emulsion droplets and gel microdrops (GMDs).  W/O droplets are liquid droplets dispersed in oil and are stabilized by surfactant. GMDs are droplets solidified using gels. Both W/O droplets and GMDs can be produced by our droplet generator, On-chip Droplet Generator, for single cell analysis and microorganism/cell culturing.


Droplet sorting examples

Fluorescence intensity-based sorting following cultivation of a single bacterium enclosed inside droplets allows selective sorting of only the droplets with proliferated cells.


Screening of environmental microorganisms using fluorescent nucleic acid probes

High-throughput analysis and sorting of droplets using On-chip® Sort enables the construction of a screening system for target enzyme-producing environmental microorganisms, microbial dark matter, and artificially mutated strains.

Environmental microorganisms were encapsulated together with fluorescent probes in W/O droplets (one microorganism per droplet) and cultured. The single-cell compartmentalization using many droplets for a variety of microorganisms with differing growth rates enables each microorganism to be cultured for a long period of time without being eliminated, and to be screened using fluorescent probes as indicators.

 Application 2: Sorting of cells damage-free

Compared to sorting with conventional cell sorters, sorting using On-chip® Sort has been proven to be less damaging to cells, as it has less effect on cell proliferation, morphological changes, and gene expression. This is because On-chip® Sort employs a unique cell sorting mechanism to eliminate all the damaging steps in cell sorting on conventional sorters.

Conventional sorter On-chip® Sort
Sheath fluid Specified Free to choose
Pressure High(5−100 PSI) Low(1.3PSI)
Ultrasonic wave Applied during droplet preparation None
Electric charge High voltage (cells are charged) None
Collison Collision to reservoir None


Effects of sorting on cell growth and cell morphology

In comparison to sorting with conventional cell sorters, the cell growth and cell morphology have not been affected after sorting with On-chip® Sort.


Effects of sorting on gene expression

The changes in gene expression levels were investigated after sorting using On-chip® Sort and a conventional cell sorter. For genes related to cell proliferation and apoptosis, which affect cell growth, it was found that the amount of genetic change was smaller when sorting was performed using On-chip® Sort.

In addition, for all the data analyzed, the number of genes whose expression patterns changed significantly was only about one-fifth of that sorted using a conventional cell sorter.

These results suggest that the genetic change induced by sorting on On-chip® Sort is less than that on conventional sorters.

 Application 3: Sorting of rare cells

On-chip® Sort enables rapid and accurate recovery of rare cells by repeated sorting of samples. Repeated sorting has always been difficult with conventional cell sorters due to the damage it causes to cells and the inability to analyze small sample volumes, but the use of On-chip® Sort’s damage-free sorting technology and microfluidic chip makes multistep sorting of samples possible.


Multistep sorting technology

Multistep sorting is a novel way to isolate very rare target cells present in a highly concentrated bulk sample. At the first sort, liquid pulses created by air pressure deflect the target cell and its surrounding non-target cells into the collection reservoir. The collected cells are re-sorted further to reduce the number of non-target cells and enrich the rare target cells. Each sort takes about 10 min.


High-purity recovery of circulating tumor cells by multistep sorting

On-chip® Sort allows rapid and high purity recovery of extremely rare cells, such as circulating tumor cells (CTCs). CTCs are cancer cells that have detached from the primary cancerous tissue and are circulating in the bloodstream. The analysis of highly purified CTCs is expected to be used for clinical trials such as cancer diagnosis.

Multistep sorting demonstrated that a few dozen target cells could be recovered with minimal loss from a sample containing 107–108 cells.

A very small number of target CTCs present among cells in lysed blood were specifically stained, and multistep sorting was performed to enrich the CTCs. Microscopic observation after three repeated sorts confirmed that CTCs were recovered with high purity.

 Application 4: Sorting of cell clusters and large particles, and freedom of sheath fluid of your choice

Cell clusters and large particles up to 140 μm in diameter, which conventional cell sorters cannot sort, can be sorted using On-chip® Sort.

On-chip® Sort allows the use of any sheath fluid of your choice, including saline, culture medium, and oil, in order to maintain the samples at their physiological condition and minimize the cell damage during sorting.


Sorting of spheroids (cell cluster)

The use of spheroids (cell clusters) to assess drug sensitivity is important for evaluating drug efficacy in cancer therapy. On-chip® Sort can sort spheroids of a particular size from a spheroid culture or clinical materials for the purpose of preparing a monodisperse spheroid sample.


Freedom of sheath fluid of your choice

On-chip® Sort allows choosing any sheath fluid of your choice in order for the samples to be maintained at their physiological condition and minimize the cell damage during sorting.

Termites rely on the protists present in their intestine to provide enzymes to digest the wood materials for food. Using a conventional cell sorter to sort those protists remains a challenge, because some protists are large and a specific solution has to be used as sheath fluid to prevent osmotic pressure-induced cell damages during sorting. On-chip Sort showed to successfully sort out large protozoa.

 On-chip Sort analysis sample examples

Application 1: Sorting of droplets containing encapsulated cells

Escherichia coli
• Mycorrhizal fungi
Bacillus subtilis
• Actinobacteria
• Mold
• Yeast
• Oil-producing algae

Environmental samples
• Soil bacteria
• Microorganisms in seawater and lake water
• Gut bacteria
• Microplankton

HTS screening
• CHO cells
• Hybridoma
• Cell-free translation system
• GPCR reaction system

• Digital PCR

Non-living materials
• Beads
• Gelatin
• Low melting point agarose
• Alginic acid
• Collagen

Application 2: Sorting of cells damage-free

Cellular tissue
• Hepatocytes
• Muscle cells
• Chondrocytes
• Alveolar epithelial cells
• Purkinje cells
• Retinal ganglion cells
• Cardiomyocytes
• Neurons
• Neuronal nucleus
• Microglia
• Cone cells
• Adipocytes
• Gingival epithelium progenitors
• Fibroblasts
• Vascular endothelial cells
• Cancer cells

Stem cells
• Hematopoietic stem cells
• iPS cells
• Cancer stem cells
• Tooth root cells (Muse)
• Mesenchymal cells

Germ cells
• Spermatozoa
• Ovary cells
• Fertilized ova

Cultured cell lines
• Cloning cells
• Genome-edited cells
• HeLa cells

Blood cells
• T cells
• B cells
• NK cells
• Neutrophils
• Platelets
• Macrophages

Other cells
• Other cells
• Rat neurons
• Fish primordial germ cells
• Drosophila cells
• Mouse tissue cells
• Mouse egg cells
• Zebrafish neurons

Application 3: Sorting of rare cells

Cancer cells
• Circulating tumor cells (CTCs)

Stem cells
• Removal of undifferentiated iPS cells

Application 4: Sorting of cell clusters and large particles, and freedom of sheath fluid of your choice

• Nematodes (L1 stage)
• Euglena
• Termite intestinal protists
• Nematode eggs

Cell masses
• Spheroids
• Organoids
• Clumps of cancer stem cells
• Bone marrow cell clusters

Plant cells
• Pollens
• Stoma cells
• Mesophyll cells
• Protoplasts


Optical system and detection sensitivity
Laser Up to 3 lasers from 488 nm, 405 nm, 561 nm, 638 nm; customization available)
Measurement parameters Forward scatter light (FSC), side-scatter light (SSC), 6 PMT
Size detection sensitivity FSC < 0.5μm、 SSC < 1.0 μm
Fluorescence sensitivity < 200 MESF FITC
Data analysis capability Four decades, 18-bit
Pulse analysis Height, Area, Width
Detection wavelength FL1 (445/20 nm), FL2 (543/22 nm), FL3 (591.5/43 nm), FL4 (676/37 nm), FL5 (716/40 nm), FL6 (775/46 nm)
Fluid channel system
Flow cell Disposable microfluidic chip
Chip material COP
Channel size 80 μm × 80 μm,150 μm × 150 μm
Flow rate ≥ 500 mm/sec
Sheath buffer Any liquid can be used as long as COP is not dissolved. Please consult us
Sample fluid volume 10 – 1000 μL
Sheath fluid volume 1 ~ 9 mL
Analysis and sorting
Sorting method “Flow shift” method in the microfluidic system
Purity > 95% (depends on concentration)
Yield > 80% (depends on condition)
Cell damage No
Cross-contamination free Yes, because of the disposable chip
Aseptic sorting Yes
Pressure 0.3 – 3psi
Maximum detection speed 4,000 events/sec
Maximum sorting speed 1000 targets/sec
Start-up 5 min
Shutdown 10 sec (no cleaning necessary)
Generation of aerosol No
Size and weight
Size (W × H × D, mm) 620 × 330 × 390
Weight 45 kg
Operating PC
PC Laptop PC
OS Windows 10、64 bit
Data format Own format and FCS3.0
Power supply
Power requirement AC100-240V, 50/60Hz
Power consumption < 240 VA


Instrument and consumables information

Product number Product name Specification summary Lasers Detectors
362S3001 On-chip® Sort HS Laser 3, FS, SS, FL(6 colors) 488 nm & 638 nm & 405 nm FL1 FL2 FL3 FL4 FL5 FL6
362S3001G On-chip® Sort HSG Laser 3, FS, SS, FL(6 colors) 488 nm & 561 nm & 405 nm FL1 FL2 FL3 FL4 FL5 FL6
362S3001GR On-chip® Sort HSGR Laser 3, FS, SS, FL(6 colors) 488 nm & 561 nm & 638 nm FL1 FL2 FL3 FL4 FL5 FL6
262S3001 On-chip® Sort MS6 Laser 2, FS, SS, FL(6 colors) 488 nm & 405 nm FL1 FL2 FL3 FL4 FL5 FL6
252S3001 On-chip® Sort MS5 Laser 2, FS, SS, FL(5 colors) 488 nm & 638 nm FL2 FL3 FL4 FL5 FL6
252S3001G On-chip® Sort MS5G Laser 2, FS, SS, FL(5 colors) 488 nm & 561 nm FL2 FL3 FL4 FL5 FL6
152S3001 On-chip® Sort LS5 Laser 1, FS, SS, FL(5 colors) 488 nm FL2 FL3 FL4 FL5 FL6
132S3001 On-chip® Sort LS3 Laser 1, FS, SS, FL(3 colors) 488 nm FL2 FL3 FL4

Lasers: Up to three types including blue (488 nm) as standard and two selected from violet (405 nm), green (561 nm), or red (638 nm) can be used (additional types are also available).

Detectors: Up to six fluorescence detectors FL1 to FL6 can be installed.

FL1: 445/20 nm, FL2: 543/22 nm, FL3: 591.5/43 nm (607/36 nm when using green laser), FL4: 676/37 nm, FL5: 716/40 nm, FL6: 775/46 nm


Microfluidic chip

Product number Product name Materials Usage Microchannel size Packaging unit
1002004 2D Chip-Z1001 COP Sorting of standard samples 80 x 80 μm 10 chips/box
1002004S 2D Chip-Z1001S COP Sorting of standard samples in sterilized condition 80 x 80 μm 10 chips/box
1002005 2D Chip-Z1000-w150 COP Sorting of cell clusters and large particles 150 x 150 μm 10 chips/box
1002005S 2D Chip-Z1000-w150S COP Sorting of cell customers and large particles in sterilized condition 150 x 150 μm 10 chips/box


Chip for sorting standard samples
Microchannel size: 80 μm × 80 μm


Chip for sorting cell clusters and large particles
Microchannel size: 150 μm × 150 μm
DemoRequest DocumentDownload
Facebook Twitter YouTube LinkedIn