Nav: Home

Researchers make flexible glass for tiny medical devices

March 23, 2017

Brigham Young University researchers have developed new glass technology that could add a new level of flexibility to the microscopic world of medical devices.

Led by electrical engineering professor Aaron Hawkins, the researchers have found a way to make the normally brittle material of glass bend and flex. The research opens up the ability to create a new family of lab-on-a-chip devices based on flexing glass.

"If you keep the movements to the nanoscale, glass can still snap back into shape," Hawkins said. "We've created glass membranes that can move up and down and bend. They are the first building blocks of a whole new plumbing system that could move very small volumes of liquid around."

While current lab-on-a-chip membrane devices effectively function on the microscale, Hawkins' research, recently published in Applied Physics Letters, will allow equally effective work at the nanoscale. Chemists and biologists could use the nanoscale devices to move, trap and analyze very small biological particles like proteins, viruses and DNA.

So why work with glass? According to lead study author and BYU Ph.D. student John Stout, glass has some great perks: it's stiff and solid and not a material upon which things react, it's easy to clean, and it isn't toxic.

"Glass is clean for sensitive types of samples, like blood samples," Stout said. "Working with this glass device will allow us to look at particles of any size and at any given range. It will also allow us to analyze the particles in the sample without modifying them."

The researchers believe their device could also mean performing successful tests using much smaller quantities of a substance. Instead of needing several ounces to run a blood test, the glass membrane device created by Hawkins, Stout and coauthor Taylor Welker would only require a drop or two of blood.

Hawkins said the device should also allow for faster analysis of blood samples: "Instead of shipping a vial of blood to a lab and have it run through all those machines and steps, we are creating devices that can give you an answer on the spot."

There is an increased demand for portable on-site rapid testing in the healthcare industry. Much of this is being realized through these microfluidic systems and devices, and the BYU device could take that testing to the next level of detail.

"This has the promise of being a rapid delivery of disease diagnosis, cholesterol level testing and virus testing," Hawkins said. "In addition, it would help in the process of healthcare knowing the correct treatment method for the patient."
-end-


Brigham Young University

Related Nanoscale Articles:

Information storage with a nanoscale twist
Discovery of a novel rotational force inside magnetic vortices makes it easier to design ultrahigh capacity disk drives.
Researchers use acoustic waves to move fluids at the nanoscale
A team of mechanical engineers at the University of California San Diego has successfully used acoustic waves to move fluids through small channels at the nanoscale.
Core technology springs from nanoscale rods
Rice University scientists have demonstrated a method for reversibly changing the light emitted from metallic nanorods by moving atoms from one place to another inside the particles.
Tooth decay -- drilling down to the nanoscale
With one in two Australian children reported to have tooth decay in their permanent teeth by age 12, researchers from the University of Sydney believe they have identified some nanoscale elements that govern the behavior of our teeth.
Beating the heat a challenge at the nanoscale
A little heat from a laser can disrupt measurements of materials at the nanoscale, according to Rice University scientists.
New nanoscale technologies could revolutionize microscopes, study of disease
Research completed through a collaboration with University of Missouri engineers, biologists, and chemists could transform how scientists study molecules and cells at sub-microscopic (nanoscale) levels.
New tool allows scientists to visualize 'nanoscale' processes
Chemists at UC San Diego have developed a new tool that allows scientists for the first time to see, at the scale of five billionths of a meter, 'nanoscale' mixing processes occurring in liquids.
Heat and light get larger at the nanoscale
In a new study recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, researchers from Columbia Engineering, Cornell, and Stanford have demonstrated heat transfer can be made 100 times stronger than has been predicted, simply by bringing two objects extremely close -- at nanoscale distances -- without touching.
Revealing the ion transport at nanoscale
EPFL researchers have shown that a law of physics having to do with electron transport at nanoscale can also be analogously applied to the ion transport.
Systems analysis -- from the nanoscale to the global
Two major research grants were announced today by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Related Nanoscale Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...