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Clemson Gets $2M Grant for Butterfly-inspired Microfluidics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Clemson University will use a new $2 million grant to study the feeding mechanisms of butterflies and moths with the aim of developing new microfluidic technologies for use in working with DNA samples and drawing liquids from single cells or tissues.

The National Science Foundation-funded research will be aimed at developing new fiber-based devices that would be capable of probing and transporting liquids that are currently impossible to reach, Clemson said this week.

"Right now, we have a real challenge of collecting fluids from miniscule places, such as a cell or a gland, without damaging them," Konstantin Kornev, an associate professor in Clemson's School of Materials Science and Engineering and an investigator on the project, said in a statement.

"Butterflies and moths have an amazing system in that they can adapt their proboscis, which is their long feeding tube, to accommodate hard-to-reach places. It can also adjust to the difficult flow of both thin and thick liquids. We want to engineer that same ability," he explained.

Kornev described the bio-inspired probes as "like an endoscope" that would "have many tiny hairs working like an octopus' arms and grabbing many things at once. This way, we can map the tissue in question by picking and analyzing biofluids from different spots," he said.

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