Dec. 18, 2006 Scientists are reporting discovery of technology that may simplify construction of those much-discussed Micro Total Analysis Systems (micro-TASs) -- "labs-on-a-chip" with whole medical and scientific laboratories shrunk to the size of computer chips.
The University of Michigan's Edgar Meyhofer and colleagues report the first demonstration that microtubules, envisioned as key components of micro-TASs, can be steered in any desired direction with externally applied electric fields. Their study is scheduled for publication in the Dec. 13 issue of ACS' Nano Letters, a monthly journal.
Microtubules - microscopic tube-shaped weaves of proteins - serve as roadways inside cells, pathways for delivering neurotransmitters to the tips of nerve cells, positioning chromosomes for cell division and transporting molecules.
On micro-TASs, microtubules would be used as molecular tracks in the chip for filtration, dilution, separation, reactions, detection and other steps in an analysis. The new steering technology may provide an easier way of positioning microtubules in the desired orientation on chips, thus reducing the amount of microfabrication typically needed to manufacture guide channels, the researchers said.
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