Navigation Links
Einstein's tea leaves inspire new blood separation technique

Scientists at Monash University in Australia have developed a process for rapidly and efficiently separating blood plasma at the microscopic level without any moving parts, potentially allowing doctors to do blood tests without sending samples to a laboratory. The new method uses the same principle that causes tea leaves to accumulate at the center of the bottom in a stirred teacup, a phenomenon first explained by Einstein in the 1920s.

The research was done by Drs. Dian R. Arifin, Leslie Y. Yeo and James R. Friend, of Monash University's Micro/Nanophysics Research Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The researchers' findings are published in the current issue of the new open-access journal Biomicrofluidics (

Separating blood plasma from red blood cells, proteins and other microscopic particles is an essential step in many common medical tests, including those for cholesterol levels, drugs in athletes, blood types in donors and glucose levels in diabetics. Current testing requires samples to be taken in a doctor's office and sent off to a laboratory and analyzed with a large centrifuge, a process that can take several days.

In the new method, a tiny amount of blood enters a fluid chamber, and a needle tip is placed close to the surface of the blood at an angle. A voltage is applied to the needle, generating ions around its tip that repel the oppositely charged ions close to it. This creates an airflow known as "ionic wind" that sweeps across the surface of the blood, causing it to circulate. The microscopic particles in the blood travel in a downward spiral because of the needle's angle relative to the surface.

When the fluid begins to circulate, one might intuitively expect the microscopic particles such as red blood cells would be pulled to the outside wall of the chamber owing to centrifugal force. But because of a phenomenon called the "tea leaf paradox," the particles are instead pulled i nward near the bottom of the chamber. Einstein proposed an explanation to this phenomenon in 1926 when he noticed that tea leaves collected at the center of the bottom of a stirred teacup instead of being expelled outward.

The tiny chamber of blood, like the teacup, is a cylinder of liquid that is rotated at the top while the base remains stationary. To satisfy a zero-velocity condition at the base, an inward force near the bottom of the liquid is generated, suppressing the centrifugal force there. Thus the microscopic particles spiral inward toward the bottom of the chamber like a miniature tornado, leaving a clear layer of plasma above.

Yeo anticipates the technology could be incorporated into a chip roughly the size of a credit card. He said the devices could be produced cheaply with current manufacturing techniques -- about 50 cents per chip -- but could still be five to 10 years away from mass production.


Source:American Institute of Physics

Related biology news :

1. Depression model leaves mice with molecular scar
2. Researchers discover way to transport environmental arsenic to plant leaves in new clean-up strategy
3. Researchers offer clues to how leaves patterns are formed
4. Ghost protein leaves fresh tracks in the cell
5. Beetle-inspired switch uses water for bonding
6. Nanotubes inspire new technique for healing broken bones
7. UC Berkeley researchers create a biologically-inspired artificial compound eye
8. Methane-belching bugs inspire a new theory of the origin of life on Earth
9. Squid-inspired design could mean better handling of underwater vehicles
10. Biologically inspired sensors can augment sonar, vision system in submarines
11. White blood cell waste disposal system plays critical regulatory role
Post Your Comments:

(Date:11/18/2015)... 2015 --> ... market report titled  Gesture Recognition Market - Global Industry ... 2021. According to the report, the global gesture recognition market was valued ... reach US$29.1 bn by 2021, at a CAGR of ... America dominated the global gesture recognition market ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... , Nov. 17, 2015 Pressure BioSciences, Inc. ... the development and sale of broadly enabling, pressure cycling ... sciences industry, today announced it has received gross proceeds ... million Private Placement (the "Offering"), increasing the total amount ... or more additional closings are expected in the near ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... 2015   Growing need for low-cost, easy ... been paving the way for use of biochemical ... analytes in clinical, agricultural, environmental, food and defense ... in medical applications, however, their adoption is increasing ... continuous emphasis on improving product quality and growing ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... Global Biobanking Market 2016 - 2020 report analyzes ... maintaining integrity and quality in long-term samples, minimizing ... long-term cost-effectiveness. Automation minimizes manual errors such as ... technical efficiency. Further, it plays a vital role ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... BRUSSELS , November 25, 2015 ... in cat and human plaque and pave the way for ... health problems in cats     ... the most commonly diagnosed health problems in cats, yet relatively ... until now. Two collaborative studies have been conducted by researchers ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS; TSX: ... prospects remain fundamentally strong and highlights the following ... received DSMB recommendation to continue the ZoptEC Phase ... the final interim efficacy and safety data ... men with heavily pretreated castration- and Taxane-resistant prostate ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... November 25, 2015 The ... is a professional and in-depth study on the ...      (Logo: ) , ... industry including definitions, classifications, applications and industry chain ... the international markets including development trends, competitive landscape ...
Breaking Biology Technology: