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article imageBacteria line dancing by magnetism (video)

By Tim Sandle     Nov 11, 2014 in Science
Scientists have placed bacteria on a chip and, by altering the magnetic field, made the bacteria make a complete U-turn. With further application the bacteria can be made to move in any direction, in movements similar to line dancing.
The application is not just some science fun. Being able to control bacteria could pave the way to delivering medication to specific targets.
The bacteria are of a special type — magnetotactic bacteria. The science behind the movement is microfluidics. Here bacteria, and indeed many other “particles,” can be controlled externally using a magnetic field. The technique can be made so precise that a particle can be sent to an exact spot.
Researchers found that varying the magnetic field was key to controlling the movements. For instance, the stronger the magnetic field, then the narrower the bacteria turn. Moreover, changing the distance between the chip and the magnet movement varies to adjustments to field strength and curve radius. It was found that when a small field is applied, the bacteria make a real turn; at larger fields they reverse.
The technique works effectively through the use of a transparent chip with micro size channels. Using this chip, the movements of bacteria can be visualized.
The research was undertaken at the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology and the Korean Institute of Science and Technology. The findings have been written into a paper, titled “Magnetic manipulation of bacteria in microfluidics”. The paper was presented at the 18th International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences at San Antonio.
This is part of an interesting area of science. Magnetic forces can not only be utilized to manipulate magnetic objects such as magnetic particles, magnetically labelled cells or plugs of ferrofluids inside a microchannel; they can also be used to manipulate non-magnetic, i.e. diamagnetic objects.
More about Bacteria, Magnetism, line dance, Music
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