Automated Transportation of Biological Cells for Multiple Processing Steps in Cell Surgery

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number7982797
Pages (from-to)1712-1721
Journal / PublicationIEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering
Issue number4
Online published17 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


Most studies on automated cell transportation are single-task oriented. Results from these investigations hardly meet the increasing demand for emerging cell surgery operations that usually require a series of manipulation tasks with multiple processing steps. In this paper, automated cell transportation to accomplish a multistep process in cell surgery was investigated. A novel control system that can manipulate grouped cells to move into different task regions sequentially and continuously without interruption was developed based on a robot-aided optical tweezers manipulation system. A potential field-based controller was designed to achieve multistep processing control, where the new concepts of contractive coalition and switching region were incorporated into tweezers-cell coalition. The success of this controller lies in simultaneously controlling the positions of the optical tweezers, trapping multiple cells effectively, and avoiding collisions in a unified manner. Simulations and experiments of transferring a group of cells to a number of task regions were performed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach. Note to Practitioners - This paper was motivated by the challenging problem of automated transportation of grouped cells to several predefined task regions in emerging cell surgery with multiple processing steps. Existing automated cell transportation studies are mainly single-task oriented, thereby making them inapplicable to cell surgery operations, because a series of sequential processing steps are usually involved in these operations. This paper provides a novel control strategy based on a robot-aided optical tweezers manipulation system to efficiently transport cells into different task regions sequentially without interruption. Unlike the previous cell transportation studies where the goal positions of single cells must be specified early, here only the desired task regions are identified in the controller implementation, making the proposed strategy a better fit for actual cell surgery practice.

Research Area(s)

  • Cell surgery, cell transportation, multistep processing, optical tweezers