Sci Adv. 2022 Nov 25;8(47):eade0640. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.ade0640. Epub 2022 Nov 23.
High-precision isolation of small extracellular vesicles (sEVs) from biofluids is essential toward developing next-generation liquid biopsies and regenerative therapies. However, current methods of sEV separation require specialized equipment and time-consuming protocols and have difficulties producing highly pure subpopulations of sEVs. Here, we present Acoustic Nanoscale Separation via Wave-pillar Excitation Resonance (ANSWER), which allows single-step, rapid (<10 min), high-purity (>96% small exosomes, >80% exomeres) fractionation of sEV subpopulations from biofluids without the need for any sample preprocessing. Particles are iteratively deflected in a size-selective manner via an excitation resonance. This previously unidentified phenomenon generates patterns of virtual, tunable, pillar-like acoustic field in a fluid using surface acoustic waves. Highly precise sEV fractionation without the need for sample preprocessing or complex nanofabrication methods has been demonstrated using ANSWER, showing potential as a powerful tool that will enable more in-depth studies into the complexity, heterogeneity, and functionality of sEV subpopulations.