A lot of life-changing inventions that we have today were inspired from simple, everyday things like objects and even animals.
Recent inventions like anti-concussion helmets
were inspired by hedgehogs and beavers respectively. Although these inventions are useful, they are also not cheap. But these inventions will me more of value if they cost so much less.
Researchers at Stanford University led by Manu Prakash created an incredibly cheaper version to an otherwise expensive laboratory machine that is the centrifuge. It is used to separate medical samples of blood, stools and urine for laboratory analysis.
Laboratory equipment are more practical to use for humanitarian missions in poor countries if they cost less.
Commercial centrifuges are bulky and costly. They also need power to run. They are impractical to use by healthcare workers of these poor countries who don't have access to electricity especially when they are out in the field.
So Prakash and his team created the inexpensive version of a centrifuge they named “paperfuge” by taking the idea of a simple children's toy called whirligig or paper spinning wheel.
It is basically just a piece of cardboard, drinking straws, fishing lines, Velcro and wood all held up together to form the whirligig "paperfuge".
Two 4-cm drinking straws with outer ends that are glued shut are sandwiched between two 10-cm cardboard wheel with a Velcro. The straws act as receptacles for small tubes that contain the blood to be centrifuged.
At the opposite ends of the wheel, wooden handles are attached with the fishing line.
The centrifugal spin of the paperfuge takes 300 revolutions per second (rps) with force about 10,000 times that of gravity. It can already do the job of separating blood samples into corpuscles and plasma in less than two minutes. The rate is comparable to an electrical centrifuge.
The device which costs at only 20 cents will soon be put to work for malaria test
The authors published their report
to Nature Biomedical Engineering.
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