In 2006, Michelle Khine arrived at the University of California’s brand-new Merced campus eager to establish her first lab. She was experimenting with tiny liquid-filled channels in hopes of devising chip-based diagnostic tests, a discipline called microfluidics. The trouble was, the specialized equipment that she previously used to make microfluidic chips cost more than $100,000–money that wasn’t immediately available.
So she did what any hot genius would do: design a chip with an AutoCAD, print it onto Shrinky Dinks paper, cook it in a toaster oven, and use it as a mold to make microfluidic chips without the $100K equipment. Then she noticed that the traditional chips can absorb proteins and skew test results, so she started etching chips directly from Shrinky Dinks using a syringe needle. And now she’s growing stem cells and creating heart muscle cells in Shrinky Dinks and figuring out how to improve solar cells as well. Are we sure she’s not from Krypton?
By the way, Shrinky Dink sheets for printers only cost around $2 per sheet. Why do I know this? Because I bought some with an art project in mind that never materialized. I can’t get around to making one art project with Shrinky Dinks; meanwhile Michelle Khine is inventing ways to save $100,000 in equipment costs with them, and building heart cells and whatnot. I’m so lazy. I really should just– ooo, a rerun of Law & Order is on.