"Acoustic tweezers," a technique developed by engineers at Penn State University that enables flexible, on-chip manipulation and patterning of cells using standing surface acoustic waves.
Unlike optical tweezers, which are large, expensive, use a lot of energy and can damage or kill living cells, acoustic tweezers are smaller than a dime and can be fabricated on a chip using standard chip manufacturing processes, as well as manipulate living cells without damaging or killing them. Acoustic tweezers can position many tiny objects simultaneously and place them equidistant from each other in either parallel lines or on a grid--a technique that will be useful in biological applications where researchers can place stem cells on a grid for testing or skin cells on a grid to grow new skin. Scientists predict that the acoustic tweezers technique will benefit many fields of biomedical research, including drug discovery and artificial organ development. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation (grant ECCS 08-24183).
To learn more, see the ScienceDaily story Acoustic Tweezers Can Position Tiny Objects.
(Date of Image: June 2009)
Credit: Tony Jun Huang, Jinjie Shi; Penn State University