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Separating the good from the bad
Date:4/15/2009

published their findings in the April 17 issue of Physical Review Letters.

In the paper, the researchers describe how they designed a microfluidic environmenta device about the size of an iPod nano that has channels containing water and bacteriato create a "shear" flow of adjacent layers of water moving at different speeds. In their tests, Stocker and Marcos used a non-motile mutant of the bacterium Leptospira biflexa, whose entire body has the shape of a right-handed helix. They injected the Leptospira into the center of the microfluidic device and demonstrated that they drift off-course in a direction dictated by their chirality.

But the researchers did much more than observe the microbes under a microscope. In addition to the experimental data they gathered, with their Brown colleagues the MIT researchers also developed a rigorous mathematical model of the process. They are currently implementing this new approach to separate objects at molecular scales.

"The methods currently used to separate chiral molecules are far more expensive and far slower than the microfluidic option. While we still have some way to go to separate actual chiral molecules, we think our work is very promising for the agriculture, food and pharmaceutical industries." said Marcos.


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Contact: Denise Brehm
brehm@mit.edu
617-253-8069
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Source:Eurekalert  

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