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Bubble wrap serves as sheet of tiny test tubes in resource-limited regions

Date:
July 16, 2014
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Popping the blisters on the bubble wrap might be the most enjoyable thing about moving. But now, scientists propose a more productive way to reuse the popular packing material -- as a sheet of small, test tube-like containers for medical and environmental samples. Their report shows that analyses can take place right in the bubbles.
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Bubble wrap can serve as an inexpensive alternative to full-size test tubes.
Credit: American Chemical Society

Popping the blisters on the bubble wrap might be the most enjoyable thing about moving. But now, scientists propose a more productive way to reuse the popular packing material -- as a sheet of small, test tube-like containers for medical and environmental samples. Their report, which shows that analyses can take place right in the bubbles, appears in the ACS journal Analytical Chemistry.

George Whitesides and colleagues explain that although bubble wrap filled with biological samples, like blood or urine, or chemicals would have to be handled carefully, the material offers numerous advantages for those living in resource-limited areas. The material is available almost everywhere around the world, is inexpensive, doesn't generate sharp edges when broken (like glass containers), is easily disposed of by burning and is flexible. The interiors of the bubbles also are sterile, so there's no need for costly autoclaves that have to be plugged in -- a huge plus for the nearly 2 billion people around the world who do not have regular access to electricity.

To show that their idea could work, the team injected liquids into the air-filled pockets of bubble wrap with syringes and sealed the holes with nail hardener. They successfully ran anemia and diabetes tests on the liquids. They also could grow microbes such as E. coli in the blisters, which is important for detecting contamination in water samples. "The bubbles of bubble wrap, therefore, can be used for storing samples and performing analytical assays, a function that has the potential to be especially beneficial in resource-limited regions, and in very cost-sensitive applications," they conclude.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. David K. Bwambok, Dionysios C. Christodouleas, Stephen A. Morin, Heiko Lange, Scott T. Phillips, George M. Whitesides. Adaptive Use of Bubble Wrap for Storing Liquid Samples and Performing Analytical Assays. Analytical Chemistry, 2014; 140716083726003 DOI: 10.1021/ac501206m

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American Chemical Society. "Bubble wrap serves as sheet of tiny test tubes in resource-limited regions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140716112751.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2014, July 16). Bubble wrap serves as sheet of tiny test tubes in resource-limited regions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 3, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140716112751.htm
American Chemical Society. "Bubble wrap serves as sheet of tiny test tubes in resource-limited regions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140716112751.htm (accessed September 3, 2015).

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