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Glossary of Terms

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See also Dielectrophoresis and Pearl Chain. A consequence of cells being exposed to an inhomogeneous or divergent electric field, resulting in their movement toward the electrodes, and subsequent alignment or pearl chain formation.

Alternating Current (AC)
During electro cell fusion, an alternating electrical current is utilized to induce an non homogeneous, or divergent electric field, allowing for dielectrophoresis and pearl chain formation. The resulting physical contact between cells facilitates the fusion process that may result following the application of a DC electroporation pulse.


A device that stores energy in the form of an electric field. A capacitor consists of two metal plates insulated from each other by a dielectric (insulating, usually a plastic material such as Mylar) material. In an ideal capacitor, no conduction current flows between the plates after the capacitor is completely charged. Capacitors can be fixed, variable, or adjustable.

Electroporation and Electrofusion Chambers are the devices used to contain the cells/molecules to be fused/transfected. The chambers include the electrodes through which the pulse generators deliver the electric field to the cells. These include cuvettes as well as various fusion chambers and specialty electrodes.

In terms of applications for electro cell fusion, cloning refers to the ability to generate identical, viable animals, through processes such as nuclear transplantation.

See Alignment, Dielectrophoresis, and Pearl Chains. The result of an AC alignment.


Dielectric Breakdown
The reversible breakdown of bi-lipid layer membranes as a result of the application of a DC electroporation pulse. A sufficiently high field strength may increase the membrane potential past a critical point leading to the breakdown of the membrane.

Dielectric Constant
For a given dielectric (nonmetallic) material, the ratio of electrical capacitance of a dielectric- filled capacitor to a vacuum capacitor of identical dimensions.

See Alignment

Dimer Formation
The bringing together of 2 cells, through the process of dielectrophoresis, so that they may be fused, resulting in a hybrid. Also refers to Pearl Chain formation.

Direct Current (DC)
During electro cell fusion, a direct current is utilized to produce a high intensity, short duration electric field, causing a reversible physical breakdown of bi-lipid membranes and resulting in the formation of temporary pores. When juxtaposed pores in the membranes of two or more cells reseal following the DC pulse, cells may become fused.

The deviation of field lines (e.g. electric field lines) from parallel, homogeneous conditions. A highly divergent field is a very inhomogeneous field where the value and direction of the field change drastically in the area under consideration.


Electric Field
The potential difference between two points (electrodes) (in Volts) divided by the distance between the electrodes (called gap, and expressed in cm). Expressed as V/cm or kV/cm. This is true only if the electric field is homogenous as it is in parallel plate electrodes.

Electric Field Force
The force acting on any charge in an electric field. The force is equal to the product of the charge and the electric field.

Electric Field Strength
See Electric Field.

Electrofusion (EF) or Electro Cell Fusion (ECF)
Electric field induced cell fusion. A novel physical means to bond two cells together by the application of an electric field pulse of high intensity.

A fluid containing charged molecules is called an electrolyte. Electrolytic properties are associated with such a fluid, such as the ability to conduct current.

The application of high electric field pulses of short duration to create temporary pores (holes) in the membranes of cells.

Embryo Manipulation
The cloning of animals can be accomplished through embryo manipulation techniques, such as nuclear transfer and electrofusion.


The number of times an oscillation goes through a complete cycle in one second. Unit is Hertz (1/sec).


Homogenous Electric Field
The direction and field strength are constant.

A viable daughter cell resulting from the fusion of two parent cells.

The fusion of an antibody producing cell with an immortalized cell, resulting in an immortalized hybrid cell capable of generating antibodies.

Hydrostatic Pressure
The pressure in liquids at rest.


Inhomogeneous Electric Field
Direction and strength of the electric field vary.


An electrofusion chamber allowing for the observation of the alignment and fusion processes under a microscope.


Osmotic Pressure
The applied pressure required to prevent the flow of solvents of different concentration across a semi-permeable membrane.


Pearl Chains
See Alignment and Dielectrophoresis. Chains of cells or vesicles brought into alignment during electro-cell fusion, prior to electroporation.

A small, mostly transient opening in a cell wall caused by the application of a brief high electric field pulse.

Potential Difference
The difference (in Volts) between points in an area between electrodes.

Pressure Gradient
The difference in pressure between two points in a medium.

Pulse Length
The length of time an electric signal is applied.


Relaxation Time
The time of a system to reach equilibrium.

Rounding Off
The pheonomena of cells forming a sphere after being fused together.


Turgor Pressure
The pressure in capillaries.


The difference of electric potential between two electrodes (expressed in volts (V) or kilovolts (kV)).


Wave Forms
The shape of time-varying electric signals.