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This paper analyzes and develops new approaches for handling and shaping collections of microscale objects such as particles or cells. While traditional dielectrophoretic manipulation approaches are based on creating an energy trap, this work employs a distributed manipulation philosophy: shaping the energy field to model the point-wise forces and hence the characteristics of the field. This method offers a better perspective on the behavior, exact shape, position, and orientation of the collection of objects under manipulation. Furthermore, this research showcases devices that artificially generate planar quadratic and squeezing force fields by setting the potential at each point in space. These devices enable the positioning of particles and collections of particles to a predefined shape and orientation. Finally, we demonstrate a novel approach to distributed manipulation. We construct a 3-D potential force field by setting the boundary conditions of the differential equation describing the dynamics of a natural medium (the voltage profile in our case). This approach is illustrated by constructing cylindrical and ellipsoidal potential force fields for use in particle and cell manipulation.