Popping bubble wrap is an irresistible urge for many who come across it but George Whitesides at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University has found a more productive use for it: as a tool to perform chemical assays in small sample diagnostics and liquid reaction tests.

His team has successfully used bubble wrap, as an alternative to more expensive scientific equipment, for blood tests and growing cultures. Many qualities of bubble wrap make it ideal for scientific use: the central cavity is sterile, the bubbles are uniform, and the contents of the transparent bubble are easily observable, as Biological Sciences and Biological Natural Sciences applicants know make for a good experimental environment.

The focus of Whitesides’ team had been on finding cheap, accessible alternatives to various scientific equipment that could be used in parts of the world with limited resources. The team has put many everyday items to creative, scientific use.

Applicants of Engineering might like to explore other household items that can perform useful functions in science and research the various creative ideas the team has developed.

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