Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > MIT develops 'tractor beam' for cells, more--Tool could manipulate tiny objects on a chip

Abstract:
In a feat that seems like something out of a microscopic version of Star Trek, MIT researchers have found a way to use a "tractor beam" of light to pick up, hold, and move around individual cells and other objects on the surface of a microchip.

MIT develops 'tractor beam' for cells, more--Tool could manipulate tiny objects on a chip

Cambridge, MA | Posted on October 30th, 2007

The new technology could become an important tool for both biological research and materials research, say Matthew J. Lang and David C. Appleyard, whose work is being published in an upcoming issue of the journal Lab on a Chip. Lang is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Engineering and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Appleyard is a graduate student in Biological Engineering.

The idea of using light beams as tweezers to manipulate cells and tiny objects has been around for at least 30 years. But the MIT researchers have found a way to combine this powerful tool for moving, controlling and measuring objects with the highly versatile world of microchip design and manufacturing.

Optical tweezers, as the technology is known, represent "one of the world's smallest microtools," says Lang. "Now, we're applying it to building [things] on a chip."

Says Appleyard, "We've shown that you could merge everything people are doing with optical trapping with all the exciting things you can do on a silicon wafer…There could be lots of uses at the biology-and-electronics interface."

For example, he said, many people are studying how neurons communicate by depositing them on microchips where electrical circuits etched into the chips monitor their electrical behavior.
"They randomly put cells down on a surface, and hope one lands on [or near] a [sensor] so its activity can be measured. With [our technology], you can put the cell right down next to the sensors." Not only can motions be precisely controlled with the device, but it can also provide very precise measurements of a cell's position.

Optical tweezers use the tiny force of a beam of light from a laser to push around and control tiny objects, from cells to plastic beads. They usually work on a glass surface mounted inside a microscope so that the effects can be observed.

But silicon chips are opaque to light, so applying this technique to them not an obvious move, the researchers say, since the optical tweezers use light beams that have to travel through the material to reach the working surface. The key to making it work in a chip is that silicon is transparent to infrared wavelengths of light - which can be easily produced by lasers, and used instead of the visible light beams.

To develop the system, Lang and Appleyard weren't sure what thickness and surface texture of wafers, the thin silicon slices used to manufacture microchips, would work best, and the devices are expensive and usually available only in quantity. "Being at MIT, where there is such a strength in microfabrication, I was able to get wafers that had been thrown out," Appleyard says. "I posted signs saying, 'I'm looking for your broken wafers'."
After testing different samples to determine which worked best, they were able to order a set that were just right for the work. They then tested the system with a variety of cells and tiny beads, including some that were large by the standards of optical tweezer work. They were able to manipulate a square with a hollow center that was 20 micrometers, or millionths of a meter, across - allowing them to demonstrate that even larger objects could be moved and rotated. Other test objects had dimensions of only a few nanometers, or billionths of a meter. Virtually all living cells come in sizes that fall within that nanometer-to-micrometers range and are thus subject to being manipulated by the system.

As a demonstration of the system's versatility, Appleyard says, they set it up to collect and hold 16 tiny living E. coli cells at once on a microchip, forming them into the letters MIT.

The work was supported by the Biotechnology Training Program of the National Institutes of Health, the W.M. Keck Foundation, and MIT's Lincoln Laboratory.

Written by David Chandler, MIT News Office

####

About MIT
The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
MIT News Office
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Room 11-400
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
Phone: 617-253-2700

Elizabeth A. Thomson
MIT News Office
617-258-5402

Copyright © MIT

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Chip Technology

Organic crystals allow creating flexible electronic devices: The researchers from the Faculty of Physics of the Moscow State University have grown organic crystals that allow creating flexible electronic devices February 5th, 2016

Scientists guide gold nanoparticles to form 'diamond' superlattices: DNA scaffolds cage and coax nanoparticles into position to form crystalline arrangements that mimic the atomic structure of diamond February 4th, 2016

Polar vortices observed in ferroelectric: New state of matter holds promise for ultracompact data storage and processing February 4th, 2016

Electrons and liquid helium advance understanding of zero-resistance: Study of electrons on liquid helium systems sheds light on zero-resistance phenomenon in semiconductors February 2nd, 2016

Discoveries

Scientists take key step toward custom-made nanoscale chemical factories: Berkeley Lab researchers part of team that creates new function in tiny protein shell structures February 6th, 2016

Discovery of the specific properties of graphite-based carbon materials February 6th, 2016

Study reveals how herpes virus tricks the immune system February 5th, 2016

Hepatitis virus-like particles as potential cancer treatment February 5th, 2016

Announcements

Scientists take key step toward custom-made nanoscale chemical factories: Berkeley Lab researchers part of team that creates new function in tiny protein shell structures February 6th, 2016

Discovery of the specific properties of graphite-based carbon materials February 6th, 2016

Study reveals how herpes virus tricks the immune system February 5th, 2016

Hepatitis virus-like particles as potential cancer treatment February 5th, 2016

Nanobiotechnology

Scientists take key step toward custom-made nanoscale chemical factories: Berkeley Lab researchers part of team that creates new function in tiny protein shell structures February 6th, 2016

Hepatitis virus-like particles as potential cancer treatment February 5th, 2016

Novel nanoparticle made of common mineral may help keep tumor growth at bay February 4th, 2016

Nanoparticles Make Fertility Possible during Consumption of Anticancer Drugs February 4th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic