A team of engineers and chemists at Brigham Young University has created a silicon microchip they say can reliably detect specific proteins or viruses from even small samples at low concentrations. Their invention, which is forthcoming in the paper version of the journal Lab on a Chip, works much the way a coin sorter does, only on a microscopic scale, screening for particles purely by size. This renders sample sizes and concentration levels almost irrelevant, because particles are trapped by size, not number, thereby allowing for much earlier detections of viruses. "Most of the tests that you're given are fairly inaccurate unless you have a really high concentration of the virus," Aaron Hawkins, professor of electrical and computer engineering at BYU and supervisor of the chip design, said in a statement. "One of the goals in the 'lab on a chip' community is to try to measure down to single particles flowing through a tube or a channel."