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News Picks : Bubble wrap used as tiny test tubes

By: Physics Today
23 July 2014

NPR: Scientists at Harvard University have found a cheap alternative to glass test tubes: the plastic packaging material known as bubble wrap. George Whitesides, who led the study, says he got the idea while traveling to different labs around the world. Scientists in developing countries struggle to obtain even the simplest pieces of equipment, such as test tubes. Bubble wrap, however, is everywhere, and it is often found in labs because it’s used for shipping equipment. While experimenting with bubble wrap, Whitesides and colleagues injected samples of blood and chemicals into the individual bubbles with a syringe and sealed the hole with nail polish. They found that not only do the bubbles work well to store liquid samples but they are also sterile. Although Whitesides recognizes that bubble wrap has its drawbacks—the bubbles pop easily and are sensitive to light—he hopes the idea will serve to inspire people to find innovative uses for other inexpensive, everyday materials.

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Scitation: News Picks: Bubble wrap used as tiny test tubes
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