Aimed at medical diagnostics, the company’s prototype silicon lab-on-chip is said to be capable of detecting genetically related diseases directly at the point of care without the delays associated with laboratory testing. The device performs DNA amplification via channels in the silicon and identifies DNA fragments within the sample. Amplification is achieved using a polymerase chain reaction technique. A DNA sample mixed with reagents flows into the channels on the chip and is cycled through three temperatures, doubling the DNA content during each cycle. Once amplified, the sample moves to a detection area on the chip that contains gold electrodes, which are pre-loaded with DNA fragments. Any DNA fragments in the amplified sample that match fragments on the electrodes attach to the electrodes and are optically detected. Based on micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) technology, other applications for the chip include drug detection, genetic-disease testing in livestock, and monitoring water supplies for biological contamination. STMICROELECTRONICS, Lexington, MA. (781) 861-2650.