Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Automation & Microfluidics
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

New Biochip Technology uses Tiny Whirlpools to Corral Microbes

Published: Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Bookmark and Share
New technology combines a laser and electric fields to create tiny centrifuge-like whirlpools to separate particles and microbes by size, a potential lab-on-a-chip system for medicine and research.

The theory behind the technology, called rapid electrokinetic patterning - or REP - has been described in technical papers published between 2008 and 2011. Now the researchers have used the method for the first time to collect microscopic bacteria and fungi, said Steven T. Wereley, a Purdue University professor of mechanical engineering.

The technology could bring innovative sensors and analytical devices for lab-on-a-chip applications, or miniature instruments that perform measurements normally requiring large laboratory equipment. REP is a potential new tool for applications including medical diagnostics; testing food, water and contaminated soil; isolating DNA for gene sequencing; crime-scene forensics; and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

"The new results demonstrate that REP can be used to sort biological particles but also that the technique is a powerful tool for development of a high-performance on-chip bioassay system," Wereley said.

A research paper about the technology was featured on the cover of the Dec. 7 issue of Lab on a Chip magazine, and the work is highlighted as a news item in the Jan. 13 issue of Nature Photonics, posted online Dec. 27. Mechanical engineering doctoral student Jae-Sung Kwon, working extensively with Sandeep Ravindranath, a doctoral student in agricultural and biological engineering, was lead author of the Lab on a Chip paper.

The technology works by using a highly focused infrared laser to heat fluid in a microchannel containing particles or bacteria. An electric field is applied, combining with the laser's heating action to circulate the fluid in a "microfluidic vortex," whirling mini-maelstroms one-tenth the width of a human hair that work like a centrifuge to isolate specific types of particles based on size.

Particles of different sizes can be isolated by changing the electrical frequency, and the vortex moves wherever the laser is pointed, representing a method for positioning specific types of particles for detection and analysis.

The Lab on a Chip paper was written by Kwon; Ravindranath; Aloke Kumar, a researcher at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Joseph Irudayaraj, a Purdue professor of agricultural and biological engineering and deputy director of the Bindley Bioscience Center; and Wereley.

Much of the research has been based at the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Purdue's Discovery Park, in collaboration with Irudayaraj's group in the Bindley Bioscience Center.

The researchers used REP to collect three types of microorganisms: a bacterium called Shewanella oneidensis MR-1; Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a single-cell spherical fungus; and Staphylococcus aureus, a spherical bacterium. The new findings demonstrate the tool's ability to perform size-based separation of microorganisms, Wereley said.

"By properly choosing the electrical frequency we can separate blood components, such as platelets," he said. "Say you want to collect Shewanella bacteria, so you use a certain electrical frequency and collect them. Then the next day you want to collect platelets from blood. That's going to be a different frequency. We foresee the ability to dynamically select what you will collect, which you could not do with conventional tools."

The overall research field is called "optoelectrical microfluidics." More research is needed before the technology is ready for commercialization.

"It won't be on the market in a year," Wereley said. "We are still in the research end of this. We are sort of at the stage of looking for the killer app for this technology."

REP may be used as a tool for nanomanufacturing because it shows promise for the assembly of suspended particles, called colloids. The ability to construct objects with colloids makes it possible to create structures with particular mechanical and thermal characteristics to manufacture electronic devices and tiny mechanical parts.

Purdue researchers are pursuing the technology for pharmaceutical manufacturing, Wereley said, because a number of drugs are manufactured from solid particles suspended in liquid. The particles have to be collected and separated from the liquid. This process is now done using filters and centrifuges.

REP also might be used to diagnose the presence of viruses, as well, although it has not yet been used to separate viruses from a sample, Wereley said.

Unlike conventional tools, REP requires only tiny samples, making it potentially practical for medical diagnostics and laboratory analysis.

Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,100+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

A Future Tool for Medicine, Food Safety
A new type of electronic sensor that might be used to quickly detect and classify bacteria for medical diagnostics and food safety has passed a key hurdle by distinguishing between dead and living bacteria cells.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Purdue-Based Firms Grow After Receiving Emerging Innovations Fund Investments
The Fund has helped to support new business ventures across a range of research areas.
Friday, March 13, 2015
New Chip Promising For Tumor-Targeting Research
The new system, called a tumor-microenvironment-on-chip device, will allow researchers to study the complex environment surrounding tumors and the barriers that prevent the targeted delivery of therapeutic agents.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Cell-Detection System Promising for Medical Research, Diagnostics
Researchers are developing a system that uses tiny magnetic beads to quickly detect rare types of cancer cells circulating in a patient's blood.
Thursday, October 03, 2013
Symposium to Focus on Advancements in Organ-on-a-Chip Research
Research teams from Purdue University's Discovery Park and the Korean Institute of Science and Technology will meet May 16.
Friday, May 03, 2013
Researchers Report Advances in Lab-on-a-Chip Technology
Purdue Scientists have developed both the hardware and software to create a versatile chip capable of being programmed for any number of tasks.
Friday, May 08, 2009
Biochip Helps Study Living Cells
The biochip could speed scientific research, which could accelerate drug development for muscle and nerve disorders.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Scientific News
Point of Care Diagnostics - A Cautious Revolution
Advances in molecular biology, coupled with the miniaturization and improved sensitivity of assays and devices in general, have enabled a new wave of point-of-care (POC) or “bedside” diagnostics.
Size Matters for Particles in Bloodstream
Research uncovers more information about how particles behave in the human bloodstream.
3D-Printing in Science: Conference Co-Staged with LABVOLUTION
LABVOLUTION 2017 will have an added highlight of a simultaneous conference, "3D-Printing in Science".
Analytical Science Breakthrough Could Lead To Medical Revolution
A breakthrough in analytical science s could allow pharmaceutical research to be faster and more precise.
Lab-on-a-Chip Detects Effects of Poison
A fast and efficient mixer has been developed for testing the effect of toxic substances faster by using a new lab-on-a-chip.
Analysing 10,000 Cells Simultaneously
New techniquethat traps 10,000 cells on a single chip has potential for cancer screening for individuals.
Puttng Cells Through Their Paces
An obstacle course for human lung cells could be the answer for better testing the effectiveness of potential new drugs.
Dolomite Bio’s Single Cell RNA-Seq System Enables High Speed Encapsulation
Dolomite Bio has developed the Single-Cell RNA-Seq System for efficient, high throughput single cell transcriptomics.
NASA's DNA Sequencing in Space is a Success
DNA has been sequenced in space for the first time ever for the Biomolecule Sequencer investigation, using the MinION sequencing device.
Lab-on-a-Stick: Miniaturised Clinical Testing For Fast Detection Of Antibiotic Resistance
A portable power-free test for the rapid detection of bacterial resistance to antibiotics has been developed by academics at Loughborough University and the University of Reading.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,100+ scientific videos