Chip can detect disease by removing nanoparticles from liquid

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Duke University scientists have figured out a way to use sound vibrations to pull together nanoparticles inside of a tiny device. This may present a breakthrough in the field of portable diagnositics, allowing nanoparticles to attach to certain proteins to help diagnose how many find their targets.

Nanoparticles are not a new development—and there is a large selection of them able to attach to certain biomolecules. But pulling them apart from the liquid sample poses a problem that normally requires equipment that needs to be maintened by trained professionals.

However, due to the use of sound, this new acoustofluidic chip is small enough and powerful enough to be integrated into hand-held devices.

"Numerical simulations were used to elucidate the mechanism of the single vortex formation and were verified experimentally, demonstrating the focusing of silica and polystyrene particles ranging in diameter from 80 to 500 nm," wrote lead author Mao Zhangming et al. "Moreover, the acoustofluidic chip was used to conduct an immunoassay in which nanoparticles that captured fluorescently labeled biomarkers were concentrated to enhance the emitted signal. With its advantages in simplicity, functionality, and power consumption, the acoustofluidic chip we present here is promising for many point-of-care applications."

The study detailing the chip appeared in the journal American Chemical Society Nano.