Acoustic cell-sorting chip could pave the way for real-life tricorders

By Adam Williams

October 4, 2012

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have developed a new prototype cell-sorting device which uses sound waves to arrange cells far more efficiently than before. The advance in efficiency presents the possibility that future medical analytical devices could be scaled-down to a size much smaller than is currently the case.

The prototype device uses two sound waves, which act as acoustic “tweezers” to sort a continuous flow of cells on a chip around the size of a dime. The researchers alter the frequency of the sound waves to direct the paths of the cells as desired, allowing the cells to be organized into five or more channels – this contrasts with the current limit of just two channels in one step which is true of most existing medical analytical devices.

It is believed that the increased capability will allow more cell types to be analyzed simultaneously, paving the way for future medical analytical devices to become smaller, more efficient, and less expensive.

Read more: Acoustic cell-sorting chip could pave the way for real-life tricorders.

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