Monday, April 30, 2012

Sonic Screwdriver?

The promise here is generating mechanical action using first ultrasonic energy and then even photonic energy.  Right now the potentialities may only be imagined but with the door now open development will swiftly follow.

It may become possible to disturb biology without entering.  How about disturbing plaques in the arteries in a clinical setting?  That may become an option.  Or even introducing a small cutting device that slowly works to remove cancer cells in situ.  Both are clumsy solutions but far less so than present practice.

The point is that it has become possible to apply mechanical energy at a distance that is forceful and effective.  We are not that far away then from truly effective tools. 

How about gently separating flesh along cell wall boundaries?  Easy to imagine and now to contemplate and in time to investigate.  The potential is there.

Is The Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver for Real?

Email Author, April 20, 2012

The Doctor and His Trusty Sonic Screwdriver. ©BBC

A team of research physicists at the University of Dundee in Scotland have created an ultrasound array that can effectively be used as a sonic screwdriver, right out of Doctor Who. The Dundee researchers were able to lift and spin a free-floating 10cm diameter rubber disk with an ultrasound beam.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a video of it in action:

Ok, so maybe this isn’t as portable as the good Doctor’s favorite tool of choice, but the implications could be staggering. According to Dr. Mike MacDonald, of the Institute for Medical Science and Technology (IMSAT) at Dundee, “This experiment not only confirms a fundamental physics theory but also demonstrates a new level of control over ultrasound beams which can also be applied to non-invasive ultrasound surgery, targeted drug delivery and ultrasonic manipulation of cells.”

The theory, which had been proven separately, is used in topics from quantum communications to biophotonics, but had not previously been proved in a single experiment. It creates angular momentum in a vortex beam using a number of intertwined helices similar in shape to DNA. The team showed how they could generate vortex beams with many intertwined helices, using a 1000-element ultrasound transducer array as an acoustic hologram. These beams are powerful enough to levitate and spin the 90g disk.

But wait, there’s more! According to Dr. MacDonald, “… [W]e are already starting to push the boundaries of what ultrasound can do in terms of targeted drug delivery and targeted cellular surgery. Like Dr. Who’s own device, our sonic screwdriver is capable of much more than just spinning things around.”

And, according to the same news release, though, the theory being applied to sound here, is also valid for light. So, watch out: the Master’s laser screwdriver may not be far behind.

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