Tiny silicon-based grippers that can capture single cells using their self-folding arms could be useful in biological assays.
David Gracias at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and his colleagues made their grabbing devices (pictured) out of the biocompatible materials silicon monoxide and silicon dioxide. The devices, which range in length from 10 to 70 micrometres when open, have three or four arms that automatically fold up and around their payload. The grippers, when attached to a substrate, were able to grasp an individual mouse cell without killing it. When untethered, they could also capture red blood cells in solution.
The grippers could potentially be used in vivo to grab, for example, diseased cells, the authors say.
Nano. Lett. http://doi.org/tdv (2014)