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.

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 September 22, 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 September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) — A SpaceX Rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a custom-built 3-D printer into space. NASA envisions astronauts one day using the printer to make their own spare parts. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) — Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) — MIT researchers developed a light-based sensor that gives robots 100 times the sensitivity of a human finger, allowing for "unprecedented dexterity." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The MIT BioSuit could be an alternative to big, bulky traditional spacesuits, but the concept needs some work. 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:
from the past week

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