Electroporation has been widely used in biology, medicine, and the food industry as a means to transport various molecules through the cell membrane. The phenomenon of electroporation is the result of cell membrane damage caused by the application of an electric field. In order to understand more precisely how cells function, we established a dielectric model of a spherical cell and analyzed its characteristics by the finite element method. The effects of altering different electrical parameters were determined. The results showed that the electric field strength was positively related to the transmembrane voltage (TMV) and pore density. There was a minimum electric field strength necessary to induce a critical TMV for the formation of pores. Pulse width also had to be long enough to charge the cell membrane, compared with the normal membrane charging time constant of about 1 μs. When the pulse width was shorter than the charging time constant, it was necessary to increase pulse frequency to create a high enough TMV. The rise-time of the electric pulse also affected electroporation: a fast rise-time pulse not only allowed penetration of the plasma membrane but also the organelle membrane. With slow rise-time pulse, the organelle was shielded from electroporation. This study defines the response characteristics of electrical parameters on the electric load cell and establishes the specificity of parameters for different purposes.
Electroporation; cell membrane; finite element; nuclear membrane; pulsed electric field; simulation.