Skip to Content

Moving Cells with Sound

Biomedical engineers at the University of Michigan are testing “acoustic tweezers” that use ultrasound waves to gently shuttle cells around. The cells are grown on a polymer that turns pulsed laser light into high-frequency vibrations; the vibrations heat the polymer slightly, and it responds by expanding. Projecting a pulsing ring of laser light around a cell deforms the underlying polymer into a tiny hill, and the cell slides down its slope. Moving the laser nudges the cell in any direction. One advantage of the technique over other cell manipulation schemes is that the process can be reversed and an isolated cell returned to its place in the cell culture. Project leaders Matt O’Donnell and Tak Buma hope to initially license the technology to drug companies. Drug researchers could quickly isolate liver cells, say, treat them with potential drugs, and return them safely to their cultures to see if they suffer any toxic effects.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station
Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station

Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything

Most public health bodies dealing with covid have long since moved on from the idea of surface transmission. China’s didn’t—and that helps it control the narrative about the disease’s origins and danger.

crypto winter concept
crypto winter concept

Crypto is weathering a bitter storm. Some still hold on for dear life.

When a cryptocurrency’s value is theoretical, what happens if people quit believing?

individual aging affects covid outcomes concept
individual aging affects covid outcomes concept

Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid

Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.