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New Optical Sorting Technique Developed at St Andrews

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The technique may have the ability to sort matter from the scale of macromolecules all the way up to large cells. In addition to the technical advantages of optical sorting and fractionation, the inherent simplicity of the approach could allow the system to be integrated with the existing laboratory equipment currently found in any research lab or hospital.

This method allows a non-invasive technique for the sorting, separation and analysis of biological matter which maintains the "natural" state of the material, in contrast to classical methods of fractionation and sorting including centrifugation, electrophoresis, liquid and solid chromatography and fluorescent and other labelled sorting.

These classical techniques often require pre-treatment of biological material or derive an altered product. Applications include the fractionation, separation or enrichment of biological material and the sorting of a single type of colloidal matter from a polydisperse sample. The technology is compatible with the areas of microfluidics and nanotechnology.

The technology with non-invasive functionality allows integration and miniaturization into microanalysis systems ("lab-on-chip"). Optical sorting and fractionation also have applications where gel electrophoresis, centrifuging and FACS are currently methods of choice.

Typical future users will be developing novel micromachines, colloids and bioengineering processes etc The University of St Andrews has applied for UK and international patent protection and the research group involved continues to perform R&D in microfluidic sorting.

There are no commercial parties involved in this research and the University would welcome enquiries from commercial parties interested in developing commercial applications of optical sorting and fractionating.