Lab tests made cheaper with chips

Mar 14, 2014 by Ry Crozier

(Phys.org) —University of New South Wales PhD candidate Ryan Pawell hopes a manufacturing technique he created will cut the cost of medical diagnostics to a few dollars per experiment or test.

Pawell's research includes a technique for making low-cost lab-on-a-chip devices out of plastic, a visual inspection system to ensure the quality and performance of each device made, and an for examining how suspended objects like bubbles or cells flow within the devices at over 10,000 frames per second.

The chips contain an array of 40,000 posts that are one-tenth the thickness of human hair. The posts are arranged into channels to separate and route small amounts of fluid to different outlets on the chip.

The chips could be used, for example, to isolate red and .

Pawell says there has been "quite a bit of interest" expressed in the manufacturing technique since it was first published in the journal Biomicrofluidics in September last year.

While it presently takes around 15 minutes to press a chip with the , Pawell believes the use of injection mould manufacturing could bring the time per device down to seconds rather than minutes.

He believes that volume manufacturing of using his method could be less than five years away.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Pawell and other researchers from UNSW's School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering are continuing to research microfluidic devices, publishing a new paper that has been accepted by the Chemical Engineering Science journal and a manuscript submitted to Lab on a Chip journal.

"Our latest research looks at what happens to objects when they're flying through these lab-on-a-chip devices," Pawell says."We've got software that tells you how fast an object would be flowing, how it changes shape and other variables."

Pawell says he became interested in medical device after a rewarding internship with a maker of portable oxygen concentrators, which are used to treat a range of acute and chronic conditions such as pneumonia and emphysema.

The company received letters from patients whose lives had been changed by the devices "every day".

"One lady had a son who needed oxygen therapy and he couldn't go to school but had a little backpack that's shaped like the oxygen concentrator," he says.

The company received a photo of the boy walking around with his backpack, hanging out with his friends with a big grin on his face. "Getting those letters was very rewarding and set me on a path to spend my time doing things that might also have a broader impact."

Explore further: The future of holistic circuits

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

An all-glass lab-on-a-chip

Jul 04, 2013

Lab-on-a-chip devices are microfluidic cells that incorporate pipes, reaction vessels, valves and a host of other implements typically found in laboratories. These components are typically carved into a flat ...

The future of holistic circuits

Jan 28, 2014

In a matter of a few decades, silicon chips have transformed the way we live, taking us from typewriters, landlines, and turntables to computers, cell phones, and MP3 players (which by now, are in your cell ...

Recommended for you

Off-world manufacturing is a go with space printer

15 hours ago

On Friday, the BBC reported on a NASA email exchange with a space station which involved astronauts on the International Space Station using their 3-D printer to make a wrench from instructions sent up in ...

First drone in Nevada test program crashes in demo

Dec 19, 2014

A drone testing program in Nevada is off to a bumpy start after the first unmanned aircraft authorized to fly without Federal Aviation Administration supervision crashed during a ceremony in Boulder City.

Fully automated: Thousands of blood samples every hour

Dec 19, 2014

Siemens is supplying automation technology for the longest and one of the most cutting-edge sample processing lines in any clinical laboratory. The line, or automation track, 200 meters long, in Marlborough, ...

Explainer: What is 4-D printing?

Dec 19, 2014

Additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – is 30 years old this year. Today, it's found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can p ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.