Popular Science has named Martin Bazant, associate professor of applied mathematics, one of its "Brilliant Ten" scientists for 2007.
Bazant was awarded the distinction for his theoretical work on microfluidics, which can be used to build portable diagnostic labs, also called "labs on a chip."
On a microfluidic chip, biological fluids are pumped through channels only millionths of a meter wide. Such chips could be used as miniature laboratories, running hundreds or thousands of experiments at once, or as portable diagnostic devices.
Bazant's work focuses on using electrokinetics to control the flow of fluids through the channels. He created a mathematical structure showing how electrodes placed along a channel can control the direction of fluid flow, much like a conveyor belt.
The "Brilliant Ten" list appears in the October issue of Popular Science. According to Popular Science, the "brilliant" designation means that the scientists on the list "have the gall to ask the big questions, even if those happen to be outside the traditional areas of inquiry. It means they challenge what we thought it possible to know. It means their answers are opening up ever more perplexing questions."
Another member of the "Brilliant Ten," Yoky Matsuoka, earned her Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT. While at MIT, Matsuoka built the hands for the robot COG. Now an associate professor at the University of Washington, Matsuoka is working on an artificial hand that can be controlled by brain signals.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 24, 2007 (download PDF).