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We demonstrate three-dimensional control with the eukaryotic cell Tetrahymena pyriformis (T. pyriformis) using two sets of Helmholtz coils for xy-plane motion and a single electromagnet for vertical motion. T. pyriformis is modified to have artificial magnetotaxis with internalized magnetite. Since the magnetic fields exerted by electromagnets are relatively uniform in the working space, the magnetite exerts only torque, without translational force, which enabled us to guide the cell's swimming direction while the swimming force is exerted only by the cell's motile organelles. A stronger magnetic force was necessary to steer cells to the z-axis, and, as a result, a single electromagnet placed just below our sample area is utilized for vertical motion. To track the cell's positions in the z-axis, intensity profiles of non-motile cells at varying distances from the focal plane are used. During vertical motion along the z-axis, the intensity difference from the background decreases while the cell size increases. Since the cell is pear-shaped, the eccentricity is high during planar motion, but lowers during vertical motion due to the change in orientation. The three-dimensional control of the live organism T. pyriformis as a cellular robot shows great potential to be utilized for practical applications in microscale tasks, such as target transport and cell therapy.
Date of Conference: 14-18 May 2012