Previous microfluid chips, in contrast, were only able to do simple chemical reactions. Researchers programmed the microchip to follow a five-step process that makes an injectable imaging tracer called FDG. FDG mimics glucose in the body and is commonly used for patients receiving positron emission tomography (PET) scans to pinpoint cancer-cell activity.

The multistep microchips make FDG faster and more efficiently than conventional methods, cost about $10, and are disposable.