Intracellular Nanomaterial Delivery via Spiral Hydroporation

Geoumyoung Kang, Daniel W. Carlson, Tae Ho Kang, Seungki Lee, Simon J. Haward, Inhee Choi, Amy Q. Shen, Aram J. Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


In recent nanobiotechnology developments, a wide variety of functional nanomaterials and engineered biomolecules have been created, and these have numerous applications in cell biology. For these nanomaterials to fulfill their promises completely, they must be able to reach their biological targets at the subcellular level and with a high level of specificity. Traditionally, either nanocarrier- or membrane disruption-based method has been used to deliver nanomaterials inside cells; however, these methods are suboptimal due to their toxicity, inconsistent delivery, and low throughput, and they are also labor intensive and time-consuming, highlighting the need for development of a next-generation, intracellular delivery system. This study reports on the development of an intracellular nanomaterial delivery platform, based on unexpected cell-deformation phenomena via spiral vortex and vortex breakdown exerted in the cross- and T-junctions at moderate Reynolds numbers. These vortex-induced cell deformation and sequential restoration processes open cell membranes transiently, allowing effective and robust intracellular delivery of nanomaterials in a single step without the aid of carriers or external apparatus. By using the platform described here (termed spiral hydroporator), we demonstrate the delivery of different nanomaterials, including gold nanoparticles (200 nm diameter), functional mesoporous silica nanoparticles (150 nm diameter), dextran (hydrodynamic diameters between 2-55 nm), and mRNA, into different cell types. We demonstrate here that the system is highly efficient (up to 96.5%) with high throughput (up to 1 × 106 cells/min) and rapid delivery (∼1 min) while maintaining high levels of cell viability (up to 94%).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3048-3058
Number of pages11
JournalACS Nano
Issue number3
StatePublished - 24 Mar 2020


  • cell transfection
  • hydroporation
  • hydroporator
  • inertial microfluidics
  • intracellular delivery
  • macromolecule delivery
  • nanoparticle delivery


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