Self-Steering Particles for Efficient & Portable Diagnostic Devices

Chemical engineers at MIT have designed minuscule particles that can "steer" themselves along preprogrammed trajectories and align themselves to flow through the center of a microchannel - making it possible to control the particles' flow through microfluidic devices without applying any external forces. These new particles could make it easier to design lab-on-a-chip devices, which hold potential as portable diagnostic devices. Such devices consist of microfluidic channels engraved on tiny chips, but current versions usually require a lot of extra instrumentation attached to the chip, limiting portability. The particles "could lead to simplified flow scanners for point-of-care devices, and also provide a new toolkit from which one can develop other novel bioassays," says chemical engineering professor Patrick Doyle.