John Fourkas, a chemistry professor at the University of Maryland, and his research team have developed materials and nanofabrication techniques to build miniaturized versions of components needed for sensors, medical diagnostics and other applications.
This approach allows for faster analysis at a lower cost with small sample volumes. The materials provide simultaneous 3D manipulation of microscopic objects using optical tweezers and a unique method for lithography, which is the process of using light in etching silicon or other substrates to create electronic components. These techniques allow complex 3D structures to be created from many microscopic components.
Previous work by this UMD research team found a breakthrough in the use of visible light for making small structures for applications including optical communications, cell behavior control and the manufacturing of integrated circuits.
Fourkas said, "One of the exciting aspects of this set of techniques is that it is compatible with a wide range of materials. For instance, we can weave together threads with completely different compositions to create functional microfabrics or build microscopic devices `brick by brick with building blocks that have different chemical or physical properties."
Fourkas also believes that these enabling technologies and techniques will be valuable in the study and control of the behavior of groups of cells as well as individual cells. This research was published in the August issue of Chemical Science.
For more information, visit: http://www2.chem.umd.edu/groups/fourkas/
July 14, 2012