Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Vacuum-like device makes cellular exploration easier

Date:
September 21, 2011
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
Imagine a microscopic jet vacuum cleaner, the size of a pen nib that hovers over cell surfaces without ever touching them. Then imagine that the soap in the cleaning solution is replaced with various molecules that can be selectively delivered to the cells. This gives you a sense of a new device that researchers believe will serve as a powerful tool to study the behavior of living cells and a range of crucial cellular processes.

The quadrupole is formed by injecting fluids from two source apertures (the pluses) and aspirating back in two sink apertures (the minuses). Fluorescent beads are used to trace the path of the flow much as iron filings can trace the path of the magnetic field around a magnet.
Credit: McGill University

It's a bit of a challenge. But, imagine a microscopic jet vacuum cleaner, the size of a pen nib that hovers over cell surfaces without ever touching them. Then imagine that the soap in the cleaning solution is replaced with various molecules that can be selectively delivered to the cells. This gives you a sense of a new device that researchers believe will serve as a powerful tool to study the behaviour of living cells and a range of crucial cellular processes, from cancer cell formation to how neurons align themselves in the developing brain.

Related Articles


The device was developed by a team made up of Mohammad Ameen Qasaimeh and David Juncker from McGill's Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Thomas Gervais from the Ecole Polytechnique of Montreal. It is based on using quadrupoles, or paired identical objects, two "positive" and two "negative" arranged in a square in order to create a force field between them. Electrostatic quadrupoles are used in radio antennae, and magnetic quadrupoles serve to focus beams of charged particles in particle accelerators. Quadrupoles also exist in fluids. They have been described theoretically for decades, but this is the first time that they've been fabricated in a lab setting.

The device is fabricated by etching four holes in a silicon tip, which is about 1 mm square. When the device is brought close to a surface, it acts on it pretty much like a water jet vacuum cleaner would. Two apertures (the "plus" holes, or sources) emit microscopic jets of fluid, onto the surface below and the two other apertures (the "minus" holes, or drains), immediately suck them back into the device.

In the vacuum cleaner analogy, if the carpet is replaced by a slice of living tissue, or a layer of adherent cells, the device can float over that surface to reach a desired target. It then simply sends out a stream of fluid with the chemicals needed to stimulate, probe, detach or kill the cells, depending on the application.

Photo: A microfluidic quadrupole, formed by injecting fluids from two source apertures (the pluses) and aspirating back in two sink apertures (the minuses). Fluorescent beads are used to trace the path of the flow much as iron filings can trace the path of the magnetic field around a magnet.

The device can also create regions of smoothly varying chemical concentration called gradients. These gradients are the key to studying many cellular processes such as how bacteria and other cells move about in the body. The researchers hope that this new kind of device will find many applications in the in vitro study of a wide range of essential cellular processes.

The research was funded by: CIHR, NSERC, FQRNT, CFI and CRC.

An article about the device was recently published in the journal Nature Communications.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mohammad A. Qasaimeh, Thomas Gervais, David Juncker. Microfluidic quadrupole and floating concentration gradient. Nature Communications, 2011; 2: 464 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1471

Cite This Page:

McGill University. "Vacuum-like device makes cellular exploration easier." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110920163219.htm>.
McGill University. (2011, September 21). Vacuum-like device makes cellular exploration easier. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110920163219.htm
McGill University. "Vacuum-like device makes cellular exploration easier." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110920163219.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Magnetic Motors, Not Cables, Power This Elevator

Magnetic Motors, Not Cables, Power This Elevator

Newsy (Nov. 28, 2014) Imagine an elevator without cables. ThyssenKrupp has drafted an elevator concept that would cruise on linear magnetic motors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins