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Golden Swirls Sort Cells

Treatments for devastating diseases like cancer and HIV sometimes begin with a single cell. These gold spirals, each thinner than a human hair, are part of a cell-sorting microchip developed by Benjamin Yellen’s team at the Pratt School of Engineering. When an electric field is applied, each spiral acts as a miniature antenna, producing electric forces that exert precise control on biological cells. This image, captured by Roozbeh Abedini Nassab, depicts the cells (small spheres) suspended inside microscopic channels (thin gray lines) above the chip. With such exact control, researchers can study how individual cells develop disease or react to pharmaceutical drugs.