Test & Measurement

A Simple Way to Study Cells

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) research engineer Javier Atencia has a reputation for creating novel microfluidic devices out of ordinary, inexpensive components. This time, he has combined a glass slide, plastic sheets, and double-sided tape into a "diffusion-based gradient generator" - a tool to rapidly assess how changing concentrations of specific chemicals affect living cells. This tool exposes an array of cultured cells to a chemical gradient – a solution where the chemical concentration changes gradually and predictably across the array. Such gradients are a rapid, high-throughput way to evaluate the effect on cell growth or toxicity.