Using polymers as tiny molecule-absorbing sponges, researchers have taken a step toward shrinking room-size chemical laboratories to the size of a crumb.
Microchips full of tiny channels and mixing chambers may eventually enable scientists to analyze minute amounts of any solution quickly and accurately (SN: 8/15/98, p. 104: http://www.sciencenews.org/sn_arc98/8_15_98/bob1.htm). Such so-called laboratories-on-a-chip could be useful for detecting the first molecular signs of disease in a blood sample or the presence of a bioterrorism agent in the environment.
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