Developing a Low-Cost, Electricity-Free Centrifuge

Paper prototype of a centrifuge

Some of the most pressing problems in global health today demand innovative solutions that are scalable, accessible, inexpensive, and efficient. The purpose of this project was to design healthcare tools for extremely resource-constrained settings, especially in the field of global health and point-of-care disease diagnostics. In particular, the goal was to create a low-cost, electricity-free centrifuge. The centrifuge is a staple component of laboratories and is commonly used to process biological samples, such as blood.  Furthermore, the centrifuge isolates key biomarkers from patient samples, which can then be used to accurately diagnose various diseases and conditions. This project, conducted under Dr. Manu Prakash, employed a diverse set of engineering and design skills, including 3D printing, laser cutting, and rapid prototyping. The first rendition of the device was constructed simply out of paper ("paperfuge"). After many rounds of prototyping with various types of materials and designs, similar devices were created using acrylic, wood, tape, and PDMS. The devices were then tested with parasitic blood and were shown to successfully isolate malaria parasites and filariasis worms from patient blood. Ultimately, combining interdisciplinary fields of biology, physics, and engineering can lead to the development of innovative tools to solve global health issues!

Aanchal Johri, '18

Aanchal is a junior at Stanford majoring in MCS. Aanchal is interested in making innovation more accessible in low-resource communities. Aanchal loves working in the intersection of math, technology, and healthcare and is also co-Editor-in-Chief of the Stanford Undergraduate Research Journal.