Microwave Assisted Electroporation

Electroporation is a highly relevant technique for the investigation of cell processes in our days. It happens if a sufficiently high electrical field is applied to a biological cell for a certain time, and thus, pores form temporarily (reversible poration) or permanent (irreversible poration) in the cell’s membrane. There are several motivations for electroporation of cells, including the transport of exogenous molecules into the cells or the extraction of molecules out of the cells. While usually in commercial systems pulsed low frequency signals with field strengths between 5-20 kV/cm are used to achieve this effect, as an alternative approach microwave frequencies with significant lower field strength (5 V/cm) can be applied. Hereby, the main advantage is the lower stress which the cells are exposed to, resulting in a potentially higher viability rate. We propose results of electroporation experiments at 18 GHz with both, adherent cells (C2C12, HeLa) as well as suspension cells (SF9 insect cells). Online optically monitoring of reversible microwave assisted poration and molecular uptake over time will be shown. Temperature influences, the viability rate of the treated cells and explanations for the mechanisms will be discussed.