Marquez, and fellow researchers in Spain, including professors Sonia Melle at Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Miguel Angel Rubio, and graduate student Pablo Dominquez-Garcia at Universidad Nacional de Educacion por Distancia, who have produced the first demonstration of the new technology, are an integral part of the microfluidics project.
The team's findings could have a vast impact on the field of bioanalysis, Hayes says.
The key to the method's effectiveness is using nanoscale surface patterns to create a "superhydrophobic" (or water-repellent) surface on which to collect extremely tiny droplets of fluids ?a surface formed by mimicking the natural self-cleaning process exhibited by the leaves of the Lotus plant, Hayes explains.
Water and biological fluids typically bead up like a ball on superhydrophobic surfaces, but the introduction of a magnetic field produced by injecting tiny magnetic particles into the droplets keeps the ball from rolling off the surface.
This allows for the fluids to be controlled through exerting magnetic force, and moved with extreme precision across the tips of nanowires, which are only about 200 atoms in diameter and less than a hundredth of the width of a human hair in length.
"We knew we had the perfect surface on which to analyze drops of blood and other biological fluids because the trapped air between the wires never allows for much of the fluid to come into contact with the surface," Garcia says.
That is crucial to accurate analysis because it prevents the chemicals and other materials in the droplet from combining and reacting with the chemical compounds in the
Source:Arizona State University