Motion of single long DNA molecules through arrays of magnetic columns

Nicolas Minc, Plamen Bokov, Konstantin B. Zeldovich, Claus Fütterer, Jean Louis Viovy, Kevin D. Dorfman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


We present a videomicroscopy study of T4 DNA (169 kbp) in microfluidic arrays of posts formed by the self-assembly of magnetic beads. We observe DNA moving through an area of 10 000 μm2, typically containing 100-600 posts. We determine the distribution of the contact times with the posts and the distribution of passage times across the field of view for hundreds of DNA per experiment. The contact time is well approximated by a Poisson process, scaling like the inverse of the field strength, independent of the density of the array. The distribution of passage times allows us to estimate the mean velocity and dispersivity of the DNA during its motion over distances long compared to our field of view. We compare these values with those computed from a lattice Monte Carlo model and geometration theory. We find reasonable quantitative agreement between the lattice Monte Carlo model and experiment, with the error increasing with increasing post density. The deviation between theory and experiment is attributed to the high mobility of DNA after disengaging from the posts, which leads to a difference between the contact time and the total time lost by colliding. Classical geometration theory furnishes surprisingly good agreement for the dispersivity, while geometration theory with a mean free path significantly overestimates the dispersivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-375
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


  • Diffusion
  • Magnetic particles
  • Single-molecule
  • Theoretical modelling
  • Video-microscopy


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