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'Tricorder'-like medical device described

Oct. 3, 2012 at 5:50 PM

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Technology using acoustic waves to sort cells on a chip may create miniature medical analytic devices like Star Trek's tricorder, researchers at Penn State say.

A device utilizing two beams of sound waves to act as acoustic tweezers can sort a continuous flow of cells on a dime-sized chip, engineering science and mechanics Professor Tony Jun Huang said.

Because the device can sort cells into five or more channels, it can analyze more cell types simultaneously and could lead the way to smaller, more efficient and less expensive hand-held analytic devices, he said.

"Eventually, you could do analysis on a device about the size of a cell phone," Huang said. "It's very doable and we're making inroads to that right now."

Biological, genetic and medical labs could use such devices for various types of analysis, including blood and genetic testing, he said.

"Today, cell sorting is done on bulky and very expensive devices. We want to minimize them so they are portable, inexpensive and can be powered by batteries."

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