Made of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a silicon-based organic polymer, the new material mimics the shape of a real eggshell. Chicken embryos are often used as models for development.
If you're unfamiliar with lab-on-a-chip technology, it scales down natural biological processes into tiny worlds with the massive benefit of reduced research costs. And that, in turn, can provide loads of vital genetic information.
To see inside eggs, researchers typically "window" them, a less polished process that entails cutting a small opening in a shell and removing it from time to time to monitor the insides. Sometimes they even place clear tape over the hole to keep the insides hydrated.
For this egg-on-a-chip research, the scientists were able to maintain development in this environment for 17 days, which is a few days short of a full gestation period, according to a release.