The Case of the Shrinking Laboratory


What if you could shrink your technology down to a size that’s 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair? It sounds like sci-fi, but it’s not. Romain Quidant shows us how he helped shrink an entire medical laboratory down to the size of a computer chip. The “lab on a chip” uses molecular mini-detectives to track down diseases hiding within a tiny drop of blood. We’ll find out how it works, and why a tiny particle could make a big difference for human health.

We visited Romain in his office at the Institute for Photonic Sciences in Spain.

Here, Romain shows off how tiny the lab on a chip is.

The blood is inserted into the tiny holes on the edges of the chip. It flows towards a nanoparticle sitting in the center. And that's where the mini-detectives live. The chip is inserted into a reader that works similar to the credit card chip reader you see in any store.

In this TEDX talk, Romain describes the development of the lab on a chip.

Romain's disease detecting "lab on a chip" is one of many uses of the concept. Here are a few others in the news:

Type of "lab on a chip" could detect disease-causing bacteria

'Tornado' lab on a chip technology with micro-tweezers to detect dangerous viruses, biological contaminants

Lab on a chip uses bacteria to transport biological cargo

If you could shrink any technology, what would you shrink? Let us know, at tumblepodcast@gmail.com.

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