Rewriting Life

Lab-on-a-Tip

A fiber-optic cable is a bundle of thousands of light-carrying glass threads. A start-up called Illumina in San Diego plans to put a test tube on the tip of each.

Born in the Tufts laboratory of chemist David Walt, the scheme uses hydrofluoric acid to etch a dimple at the end of each fiber. The teensy wells-each holds just a billionth of a microliter-can be filled with reagent-bearing beads or cells. Expose the bundle end to a patient’s blood or to a test chemical that induces a light-generating reaction and each test tube sends in a report via its fiber. Illumina is betting that the lab-on-a-tip will speed diagnostic tests, chemical sensing and genome experiments.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.