A team from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory was having trouble making a chip that could withstand the rigors of the European ExoMars rover mission, scheduled for launch in 2013, until they turned to materials called perfluoropolyethers(PFPEs). PFPEs were first pioneered by researchers at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, for use in the field of microfluidics.

The microfluidic or "lab-on-a-chip" device could be used to analyze Martian soil and rock for traces of biological compounds such as amino acids. The elastic nature of PFPEs makes it possible to incorporate moving parts such as tiny valves into the devices. The chips held up to severe stress testing, surviving the equivalent of 1 million operations at temperatures ranging from +50 degrees Celsius to -50 degrees Celsius, virtually unscathed.

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