Nanofountain probe electroporation (NFP-E) of single cells

Wonmo Kang, Fazel Yavari, Majid Minary-Jolandan, Juan P. Giraldo-Vela, Asmahan Safi, Rebecca L. McNaughton, Victor Parpoil, Horacio D. Espinosa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


The ability to precisely deliver molecules into single cells is of great interest to biotechnology researchers for advancing applications in therapeutics, diagnostics, and drug delivery toward the promise of personalized medicine. The use of bulk electroporation techniques for cell transfection has increased significantly in the past decade, but the technique is nonspecific and requires high voltage, resulting in variable efficiency and low cell viability. We have developed a new tool for electroporation using nanofountain probe (NFP) technology, which can deliver molecules into cells in a manner that is highly efficient and gentler to cells than bulk electroporation or microinjection. Here we demonstrate NFP electroporation (NFP-E) of single HeLa cells within a population by transfecting them with fluorescently labeled dextran and imaging the cells to evaluate the transfection efficiency and cell viability. Our theoretical analysis of the mechanism of NFP-E reveals that application of the voltage creates a localized electric field between the NFP cantilever tip and the region of the cell membrane in contact with the tip. Therefore, NFP-E can deliver molecules to a target cell with minimal effect of the electric potential on the cell. Our experiments on HeLa cells confirm that NFP-E offers single cell selectivity, high transfection efficiency (>95%), qualitative dosage control, and very high viability (92%) of transfected cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2448-2457
Number of pages10
JournalNano letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 12 2013


  • Electroporation
  • electropermeabilization
  • microfluidic probe
  • nanofountain probe
  • single cell
  • transfection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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