It’s the ‘lab-on-a-chip’ model

first_imgWith little more than a conventional photocopier and transparency film, anyone can build a functional microfluidic chip.A local Cambridge high school physics teacher invented the process; now, thanks to a new undergraduate teaching lab at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), students will be able to explore microfluidics and its applications.The Microfluidics Lab, developed by Anas Chalah, director of instructional technology at SEAS, takes advantage of a simple but ingenious new method of creating lab-on-a-chip devices that are quick to produce, affordable, and reusable. (Microfluidic devices are used to study liquids at the microliter scale — such as a few drops of blood from a patient — while taking advantage of some fluid behaviors that take place only at the micro-scale.)Chalah is excited — contagiously so — about the lab’s potential to serve students from all areas of science and engineering.“Harvard University shaped the emergence of the field of microfluidics and soft lithography through the leading research conducted in the labs of George Whitesides and David Weitz, among others,” he says. “Now we are bringing those areas of experimentation to the undergraduate teaching labs at SEAS.”The first course to use the lab will be the mechanical engineering course ES 123, “Introduction to Fluid Mechanics and Transport Processes.” Students enrolled in the course this spring will use sophisticated COMSOL Multiphysics software to model the flow of liquid through chips of varying structure in order to design and build optimal chips in the lab. The COMSOL software is widely used for design projects in both academic research and industry.ES 123 is structured to emphasize the importance of the design process.“Students do the simulation, go through the homework, and get exposed to the process before they even get in the lab,” says Chalah.Chalah points out that the new lab will provide a core facility for multiple areas of undergraduate study. “We can get people from different disciplines excited about the same device,” he says.For example, the do-it-yourself opportunity will also appeal to budding biomedical engineers and premedical students, who can use the lab-on-a-chip devices to study and test clinical applications.Chalah is particularly interested in a device called a concentration gradient generator, which allows two or more fluids to mix in a very controlled manner, producing a range of concentrations from 0 to 100 percent.A variation of the device is used in drug testing, as it can be used to deliver a range of very precise drug concentrations to a set of experimental cell lines. With multiple cell lines built into one chip, as many as 80 tiny experiments can be performed at once, all under the same controlled conditions. Chalah expects that bioengineering lab courses at SEAS will soon be developed that incorporate this technology.The technology used in the lab is not new, but a process that makes it affordable certainly is.Commercially available microfluidic devices are produced in a clean room using high-resolution photolithography and etching, a process which pushes the retail price to around $500 each.Local high school physics teacher Joe Childs had a better idea: Design the layout of the channels in PowerPoint, print the image, and photocopy it onto a classroom-style transparency film several times until the layers of ink create raised ridges. The process results in a negative mold that can then be used to create channels in the polymer chip.It sounds rudimentary, but it works.Childs, who teaches at the nearby Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, collaborates with faculty and students at SEAS through the Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program funded by the National Science Foundation‘s National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network.He first developed the process in the lab of Bob M. Westervelt, Mallinckrodt Professor of Applied Physics at SEAS and professor of physics, with graduate student Keith Brown. He is now perfecting it with Chalah and an enthusiastic team of young interns for the undergraduate teaching labs.Together, they can design and build a chip in a single afternoon, and, Childs adds, “the most expensive thing that we need is a copy machine.”The resulting chips are not as precise as the commercially available versions, but the benefit — besides the low cost — is that students will be able to experience the process of designing and building the devices themselves, applying their knowledge of the fundamental principles of fluid dynamics to create a functional tool.The simplified process will allow other science teachers to introduce their students to an aspect of physics that might previously have been off-limits due to cost.“Believe me,” says Chalah, “if people knew we could build a chip so cheaply, they would jump on it like this.”The creation of the new Microfluidics Lab, on the ground floor of Pierce Hall, was enabled by a generous donation from Warren Wilkinson ’41. The lab features state-of-the-art microfluidic pumps, microscopes, ovens, and soft lithography and fabrication equipment.A student in the new Microfluidics Lab peels back the polymer, showing engraved channels from an ink-transparency template.last_img read more

Hughton warned: save us or else

Manager Chris Hughton must keep Norwich out of the bottom three of the Barclays Premier League or face the consequences, chief executive David McNally has warned. On Friday night, basement club Fulham axed manager Rene Meulensteen and replaced the Dutchman with former Bayern Munich coach Felix Magath in a dramatic attempt to stave off the threat of relegation. The Canaries have slipped back into the danger zone and are now just one point above 18th place following Wednesday night’s 2-0 defeat at West Ham, which left Hughton’s men with just one win in 11 games. McNally maintains while the manager – who oversaw a £20million summer spending spree to strengthen the squad – continues to have the support of the board for now, the situation remains constantly under review in a “results business”. In an interview with BBC Radio Norfolk and Archant, McNally said: “We are too close for comfort. “Chris has been told in no uncertain terms ‘get us out of that position and keep us out’, but equally, we’re three points off 10th.” McNally continued: “As far as giving any certainty for Chris, or anyone else – it’s a results business. Whether that’s Chris Hughton as manager or me as chief executive or anybody else, we’re paid to do our jobs. “As long as we achieve what is required of us, then we’ll stay in work. “It would be wrong at any level, delinquent almost, to give any guarantees. “All I would assure Norwich supporters is that we are watching it very carefully. “The whole board is aware of the strength of feeling from the support.” Press Association Hughton was appointed in the summer of 2012 following the departure of Paul Lambert to Aston Villa, and eventually guided Norwich to a mid-table finish. Norwich’s main problem this season, though, has been a lack of goals, with just 19 in the league – club-record £8million signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel failing to find the net since the opening day. McNally continued: “I know, having invested in the summer, the supporters expect us to be in a higher position, which is a natural conclusion considering this is our third season in the Premier League. “Last season, we finished 11th. We had the 20th biggest payroll. “I know Chris is working hard to do what we need to stay in the league and move up the table. “He’s 100 per cent positive he will do that. So he has the support of the club to go on and ensure we get the points to achieve those objectives.” read more

3 things to know from Naesean Howard’s 2nd court appearance

first_imgFormer Syracuse football player Naesean Howard appeared in court for the second time since allegedly stabbing current SU defensive backs Corey Winfield and Chauncey Scissum.Here are three things to know from the court appearance.1. Howard was ordered to have a mental health examWhen Howard approached the bench on Friday, he and his then-lawyer, Stuart LaRose, had sent a letter to Judge James H. Cecile requesting a mental health exam. The exam will determine whether Howard is competent enough to proceed with the case and understand the charges against him.2. He changed his representationAdvertisementThis is placeholder textAlthough LaRose represented Howard in court today, the former SU football player and his family informed LaRose after the hearing they had retained Irene Aurora Flores as his new representation.Flores said she hadn’t had a chance to completely review the case, but that Howard was held in the 5c section of the downtown jail, an area for inmates dealing with mental health issues. She also said Howard may have had one-on-one supervision while he was still in jail. Earlier this week, Howard was released from jail on $40,000 bond.“There’s more to the case than going up to them and doing what he allegedly did,” Flores said.3. Howard is due in court next monthCecile set Howard’s next appearance in court for May 19. After being arraigned on Monday, his appearance in court on Friday was supposed to be set for a preliminary hearing, but the case will be put in front of a grand jury instead. Comments Published on April 22, 2016 at 11:29 am Contact Chris: [email protected] | @ChrisLibonati Related Stories Witness details alleged stabbing, South Campus partyDino Babers: ‘It’s a blessing both of these young men are still with us’Former Syracuse football player Naesean Howard bonded out of jailcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more