So, today I’m revealing some the depths of my true chemistry geekiness. As I was poring over press releases, I found one from the University of Michigan that was fun– but probably also too geeky– to propose as a story idea: a microfluidic device that moves droplets based on sound waves.
First of all, some explanation: Microfluidic devices are tiny networks of channels that chemists and chemical engineers are building as ways to mix and recombine a variety of chemicals. One of these days this technology will probably run all sorts of diagnostic devices– the sorts of gizmos that might sequence your DNA and scan your system for all sorts of diseases by splitting up a tiny drop of your blood.
However, part of the problem with these devices, as the University of Michigan researchers note, is that though the systems of channels are often tiny, the devices that you hook to them to move the droplets around often aren’t. So they built a system that would move the drops that alter how the droplets move based on sound frequencies. So, the melody choreographs the droplet movement.
I guess it could make for a noisy lab, but, geek that I am, I can’t help but enjoy the video of the droplet dance.