The World’s Smallest Automated Syringe

Tomaso Zambelli, a researcher in the group led by Janos Vörös, Professor at the Institute of Biomedical Technology at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, has presented a nanosyringe for automated injection of DNA, RNA and medicines into cells without damaging them.
To create this syringe, called “fluid force microscope”, Zambelli transformed the technology of the atomic force microscope into a microinjection system. In contrast to a conventional manual system, the pressure exerted on the cell by the measuring needle is adjusted so accurately that the cell is not damaged unnecessarily. A laser is responsible for the control, recording every movement of the cantilever and adjusting the force on the cell several thousand times a second. The system also operates under water or in other liquids. To enable the injection of liquids, scientists at the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) in Neuchâtel installed a microchannel in the cantilever – the diameter of the opening at the needle tip is only 200 nanometers.
In addition to having biological uses, the method could also be applied in the manufacture of microelectronics or microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The results have been published in Nano Letters.
www.lbb.ethz.ch
www.csem.ch

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