Based on gentle acoustic vibrations, the device, called acoustic tweezers, is a microfluidic device for sorting and manipulating cells and other micro objects.

"We believe our acoustic tweezers have tremendous potential, especially in diagnostics, with some applications also in therapeutics," said professor Tony Huang who developed the device along with his students.

"Our current device works well, but to be used in diagnostics, the whole device has to be disposed off after one use," Huang said."We have now found a way to separate the fluid-containing part of the device from the much more expensive ultrasound-producing piezoelectric substrate.

This makes disposable acoustic tweezers possible," he explained. Huang believes that the disposable plastic portion of the device can be manufactured for as little as 25 cents per unit.

Even with the addition of electronics for diagnosis, which could be easily added off the shelf, he foresees a manufacturing cost of a few dollars for the complete permanent system, which could then be used over and over with the simple replacement of the plastic microfluidic channels.

The findings were published in the journal Lab on a Chip.



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