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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
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Video: Tiny Container Could Make Blood Tests Less Painful
24 April 2012 7:00 pm
Good news for people who hate big needles: Researchers have invented a device that could allow diagnostics to be performed with just a single drop of blood. The apparatus is a container a few millimeters wide that consists of a conductive base covered with an elastic layer of polydimethylsiloxane or PDMS, a silicone compound. When liquid is dripped on the PDMS, the layer wraps around the ensuing droplet thanks to its surface tension—the same force that causes water to curl upward at the sides of a glass. In this configuration, the droplet cannot escape. To release it, the researchers simply insert a thin electrode: Together with the conductive base, the electrode creates an electric field which forces the PDMS layer to unwrap (as seen above). The researchers believe that their container, which is described in a paper published online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A, could enable blood tests to be performed with a single drop of blood, because it would enable droplets to be transported without evaporating or becoming contaminated. That would reduce patient discomfort, and possibly save time. What's more, the researchers think their container could deliver minute quantities of drugs to diseased cells, thereby avoiding having to administer potentially harmful drugs to the entire body.
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