Cool devices and diagnostics: Advances in the field

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Penn State, Cell-sorting chip

Image courtesy of Penn State, Ascent Bio-Nano Technologies

Pennsylvania State University
Developer of: An acoustic cell-sorting chip
Cool factor: This new piece of tech is the first step toward developing a cell phone-sized medical lab. Think Star Trek's tricorder used by Dr. McCoy--a tool that provided a diagnosis after briefly hovering over a person--and that is essentially what they are aiming for. The dime-sized chip uses two sound beams that serve as "acoustic tweezers" to sort a continuous flow of cells, the researchers explain. The sound waves are intended to allow for cell sorting less likely to damage cells than current, bulkier analytical devices. So far, they've used the tiny device to sort leukemia-affected human white blood cells. Moving ahead, the researchers believe they can use the chip in a tiny analytical device that will be easy to carry around and be powered by batteries.