A critical step in preventing the spread of influenza virus must be effective detection, but current methods are generally too costly or too cumbersome. Brown professor Anubhav Tripathi and students in his laboratory are hoping to change that, however, using a carefully designed microfluidic system. The result of their study is a small biochip -- one that could easily fit into a first aid kit -- that isolates RNA sequences using micron-scale magnets, further separating and identifying influenza sequences. The tricky part is the isolation from other "biological debris" in a sample, but the researchers have demonstrated separation as fast as 0.75 millimeters per second. "We wanted to make something simple," said Anubhav Tripathi, professor at Brown University corresponding author on the paper, in a press release, "It's a low-cost device for active, on-site detection, whether it's influenza, HIV, or TB (tuberculosis)."