Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Biomed Research International




4072983 (10 pages)




Ultrashort electric pulses (ns-ps) are useful in gaining understanding as to how pulsed electric fields act upon biological cells, but the electric field intensity to induce biological responses is typically higher than longer pulses and therefore a high voltage ultrashort pulse generator is required. To deliver 1 ns pulses with sufficient electric field but at a relatively low voltage, we used a glass-encapsulated tungsten wire triple-point electrode (TPE) at the interface among glass, tungsten wire, and water when it is immersed in water. A high electric field (2MV/cm) can be created when pulses are applied. However, such a high electric field was found to cause bubble emission and temperature rise in the water near the electrode. They can be attributed to Joule heating near the electrode. Adherent cells on a cover slip treated by the combination of these stimuli showed two major effects: (1) cells in a crater (<100 𝜇m from electrode) were fragmented and the debris was blown away. The principal mechanism for the damage is presumed to be shear forces due to bubble collapse; and (2) cells in the periphery of the crater were permeabilized, which was due to the combination of bubble movement and microstreaming as well as pulsed electric fields. These results show that ultrashort electric fields assisted by microbubbles can cause significant cell response and therefore a triple-point electrode is a useful ablation tool for applications that require submillimeter precision.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Copyright © 2018 Enbo Yang et al.

Original Publication Citation

Yang, E. B., Li, J., Cho, M., & Xiao, S. (2018). Cell fragmentation and permeabilization by a 1 ns pulse driven triple-point electrode. Biomed Research International, 2018, 4072983. doi:10.1155/2018/4072983


0000-0002-4893-6460 (Yang)