Thread as a Matrix for Biomedical Assays

Meital Reches, Katherine A. Mirica, Rohit Dasgupta, Michael D. Dickey, Manish J. Butte, George M. Whitesides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

229 Scopus citations


This paper describes the use of thread as a matrix for the fabrication of diagnostic assay systems. The kinds of thread used for this study are inexpensive, broadly available, and lightweight; some of them are already familiar materials in healthcare. Fluids wick along these threads by capillary action; no external power source is necessary for pumping. This paper demonstrates three designs for diagnostic assays that use different characteristics of the thread. The first two designs - the "woven array" and the "branching design" - take advantage of the ease with which thread can be woven on a loom to generate fluidic pathways that enable multiple assays to be performed in parallel. The third design - the "sewn array" - takes advantage of the ease with which thread can be sewn through a hydrophobic polymer sheet to incorporate assays into bandages, diapers and similar systems. These designs lead to microfluidic devices that may be useful in performing simple colorimetric assays that require qualitative results. We demonstrate the function of thread-based microfluidic devices in the context of five different colorimetric assays: detection of ketones, nitrite, protein, and glucose in artificial urine, and detection of alkaline phosphatase in artificial plasma.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1722-1728
Number of pages7
JournalACS applied materials & interfaces
Issue number6
StatePublished - 23 Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • diagnosis
  • low-cost
  • microfluidic devices
  • paper
  • thread


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