Researchers to mimic nature's probes

Aug 31, 2009

The National Science Foundation has awarded Clemson University researchers $2 million to study ways to mimic the suction mechanism used by butterflies and moths to feed so that the same method can be used in medical diagnostics. The research will help develop a new class of fiber-based devices capable of probing and transporting previously impossible-to-reach liquids, such as those drawn from a single cell or tissue.

"Right now, we have a real challenge of collecting fluids from miniscule places, such as a cell or a gland, without damaging them," said principal investigator Konstantin Kornev, associate professor in the School of and Engineering. " and moths have an amazing system in that they can adapt their proboscis, which is their long feeding tube, to accommodate hard-to-reach places. It can also adjust to the difficult flow of both thin and thick liquids. We want to engineer that same ability, and we can learn a great deal from nature."

Kornev said the goal is to develop probes for medical testing and that applications may some day include drawing DNA from a single cell. He adds that current "microfluidic devices," the instruments that transport and analyze small amounts of liquids, are not flexible and are not able to deal with a wide range of liquids.

"The bio-inspired probes we envision are like an endoscope that is used to see inside the body. It would have many tiny hairs working like an octopus' arms and grabbing many things at once. This way, we can map the tissue in question by picking and analyzing biofluids from different spots," said Kornev. "In doing this, we're taking advantage of recent progress in the field of fiber science and engineering."

Co-investigators to the project are Peter Adler, professor of entomology, soil and plant science; Kenneth Christensen, assistant professor of genetics and biochemistry; Richard Groff, assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering; and Alexey Vertegel, assistant professor of bioengineering. The research is part of an ongoing project to develop fiber-based medical devices in Clemson's School of Materials Science and Engineering and the Center for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films.

Source: Clemson University (news : web)

Explore further: Building the ideal rest stop for protons

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tunable microlenses shine light on medical imaging

Oct 13, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers have developed tunable liquid microlenses that can quickly scan images and record video. Integrated onto fiber-optic probes, the lenses further could reduce the invasiveness ...

Research on New Types of Optical Devices Modifies Optics

Jul 30, 2004

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded an $8 million, four-year, basic-research program grant to the California Institute of Technology to initiate research in photonics technologies. The technical focus of the effort will be on optofluidics ...

Recommended for you

New catalyst converts carbon dioxide to fuel

2 minutes ago

Scientists from the University of Illinois at Chicago have synthesized a catalyst that improves their system for converting waste carbon dioxide into syngas, a precursor of gasoline and other energy-rich products, bringing ...

Building the ideal rest stop for protons

Jul 29, 2014

Where protons, or positive charges, decide to rest makes the difference between proceeding towards ammonia (NH3) production or not, according to scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and ...

Cagey material acts as alcohol factory

Jul 29, 2014

Some chemical conversions are harder than others. Refining natural gas into an easy-to-transport, easy-to-store liquid alcohol has so far been a logistic and economic challenge. But now, a new material, designed ...

User comments : 0