How the 'Chemical Laptop' Works

First, the Chemical Laptop need’s a liquid sample to analyze. The first sample that the JPL used, was water boiled above 212 degrees fahrenheit. Then, the Chemical Laptop prepares the sample by mixing it with a fluorescent dye. After the sample is mixed with the dye, the sample flows into a microchip inside the Chemical Laptop. Inside the microchip, the Amino and Fatty acids are separated. Inside the “separation channel” of the microchip, there are built in chemical additives that mix with the sample. These additives will change the relative amount of time the left and right-handed Amino acids are in the separation channel; which allows scientists to determine if the Amino acids are left or right-handed. The Chemical Laptop does this because some species on other planets will only interact with right-handed Amino acids, and some will only interact with the left-handed Amino acids. At the end of the “separation channel” of the microchip, there is a detection laser. The dye lets the scientist’s see a signal corresponding to the Amino acids or Fatty acids when they pass through the laser.

Boiling Water was the sample that JPL used for the 'Chemical Laptop' to analyze