Fidget spinners are small toys that people might use to destress or reduce anxiety, but they may have another practical application. Researchers have found that the centrifugal force they generate is enough to separate blood cells from plasma so it can be used in diagnostic tests.
Fidget spinners are a low-tech way to accomplish the centrifugation that’s needed to prepare the blood for tests in areas with limited resources. The inexpensive toys don’t need electricity, unlike laboratory centrifuges.
Led by researchers Chien-Fu Chen and Chien-Cheng Chang, a team of scientists used fidget spinners on blood samples. They separated about 30 percent of nearly pure plasma in around six minutes by flicking the spinner only a few times. This method enabled them to detect HIV proteins in a single drop of blood.