Tiny grains of silicon can surround and control the motion of molecules, cells, and bacteria within a droplet of liquid, according to chemists at the University of California, San Diego. Now, the team has made their "lab-in-a-drop" (as opposed to "lab-on-a-chip") technology magnetic to facilitate the development of microfluidic devices for nanoscale analytical chemistry and spectroscopy. Michael Sailor and his colleagues use their silicon chaperones to manipulate tiny samples. However, with the addition of a magnetic component they can now do this with a simple magnet, which will allow them use their smart dust for many more applications.
Making an old technique stick