In recent years, several new methods have been developed to precisely manipulate small particles using optical, electric, acoustic, magnetic, or fluidic fields. Automated fluidic trapping has emerged as a particularly powerful method to control colloidal particles, cells, or single polymers using only fluid flow. Here, we discuss recent advances in the automation of particle manipulation, focusing on flow-based and electric field-based methods. Broadly, automated flow control enables the precise manipulation of multiple freely suspended particles using gentle flow, thereby enabling new directions in chemical and biological systems.
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