Thinking small: Texas A&M team creates lab-on-a-chip

January 14, 2005

COLLEGE STATION, Jan. 14, 2005 - Imagine an entire chemistry laboratory reduced to the size of a postage stamp. It could happen.

While others may think big, Texas A&M University physicists Don Naugle and co-worker Igor Lyuksyutov are thinking small - as in micro small. They have successfully managed to levitate micron-sized fluids using magnets, which could lead to new advances in medicine, chemistry, chemical engineering and other related fields.

By using small magnets on a postage-stamp sized chip, Naugle and Lyuksyutov have managed to move and merge tiny levitating droplets and crystals and to control the orientation of the levitating crystals.

The droplets used were as small as bacteria or 100 times smaller than a human hair, and up to one billion times smaller in volume than has been demonstrated by conventional methods.

Their work was recently published in Applied Physics Letter and featured in several science journals. Their research is funded by The Robert A. Welch Foundation and National Science Foundation grants.

"It might be possible to do the same thing with a large number of fluids, chemicals or even a virus," Naugle explains.

"The Texas A&M team has managed to move and levitate several substances, including alcohol solutions, oils, some types of powders and even red blood cells and bacteria. It could be theoretically possible to reduce an entire chemistry lab to a few postage-stamp sized chips.

"Try to picture individual chemical beakers (droplets) being merged into other chemical beakers. That's the principal involved here."

Naugle calls the method a "lab on a chip" and says the possibilities are exciting.

"The lab-on-a-chip device levitates and manipulates diamagnetic objects, which are very weakly repelled by magnets," he notes.

"These include living tissue and other objects and substances you don't think of as being magnetic."

The new procedures could be applied to other fields, he believes.

"Though it has taken several years to achieve the droplet levitation process, we need to see if we can make progress with manipulating DNA, nanotubes and other things using both magnetic and electric fields. It would be exciting to see if we could precisely transport levitating nanotubes into predefined positions on a silicon chip. This could open up even more doors for future research."
-end-
The Texas A&M team's work can be viewed at: http://levitation.physics.tamu.edu.

Contact: Don Naugle at 979-845-4429 or email at naugle@physics.tamu.edu.

Texas A&M University

Related Chemistry Articles from Brightsurf:

Searching for the chemistry of life
In the search for the chemical origins of life, researchers have found a possible alternative path for the emergence of the characteristic DNA pattern: According to the experiments, the characteristic DNA base pairs can form by dry heating, without water or other solvents.

Sustainable chemistry at the quantum level
University of Pittsburgh Associate Professor John A. Keith is using new quantum chemistry computing procedures to categorize hypothetical electrocatalysts that are ''too slow'' or ''too expensive'', far more thoroughly and quickly than was considered possible a few years ago.

Can ionic liquids transform chemistry?
Table salt is a commonplace ingredient in the kitchen, but a different kind of salt is at the forefront of chemistry innovation.

Principles for a green chemistry future
A team led by researchers from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies recently authored a paper featured in Science that outlines how green chemistry is essential for a sustainable future.

Sugar changes the chemistry of your brain
The idea of food addiction is a very controversial topic among scientists.

Reflecting on the year in chemistry
A lot can happen in a year, especially when it comes to science.

Better chemistry through tiny antennae
A research team at The University of Tokyo has developed a new method for actively controlling the breaking of chemical bonds by shining infrared lasers on tiny antennae.

Chemistry in motion
For the first time, researchers have managed to view previously inaccessible details of certain chemical processes.

Researchers enrich silver chemistry
Researchers from Russia and Saudi Arabia have proposed an efficient method for obtaining fundamental data necessary for understanding chemical and physical processes involving substances in the gaseous state.

The chemistry behind kibble (video)
Have you ever thought about how strange it is that dogs eat these dry, weird-smelling bits of food for their entire lives and never get sick of them?

Read More: Chemistry News and Chemistry Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.