Using lasers to deliver drugs

Researchers at the Max Planck Society have devised a method for opening up drug capsules inside tumor cells using a laser.

Fig.: Microcapsules in a cell, (a) before, and (b) after being illuminated with a laser. The arrow indicates the laser beam’s focus. The laser opens the capsules, which release their fluorescent content.

The vehicle that the researchers used was a polymer capsule only a few micrometres in diameter. The walls of the capsules were built from a number of layers of charged polymers, alternating positive and negative. In the laboratory, at least, this is an established way of producing transport containers for medicines, cosmetics, or nutrients, which can also pass through cell membranes. André Skirtach and his colleagues equipped the capsules with a kind of "open sesame". But it didn’t require any magic – just nanoparticles made of gold or silver atoms. The scientists mixed together charged metal nanoparticles along with the polymers composing the walls of the vesicle. The tumour cells absorbed the microcapsules and then the scientists aimed an infrared laser at them. Metal nanoparticles are particularly good at absorbing the laser light and transmitting the heat further into their surroundings, heating up the walls. They became so hot that the bonds broke between the polymers and the shell and the capsules eventually opened.

It remains to be seen how they’ll deliver the capsules to the tumor cells while they’re in the body and what kinds of tumors they’ll be able to treat.

It’s also an open question what happens with the metal nanoparticles that remain in the body.

Video clothing

Ok, there aren’t any lasers involved in this article but this is cool anyway.

At IFA 2006 Philips will be showing off garments and furniture featuring their Lumalive technology that allows the objects to show graphics in real-time.

Lumalive fabrics feature flexible arrays of colored light-emitting diodes (LEDs) fully integrated into the fabric – without compromising the softness or flexibility of the cloth. These light emitting textiles make it possible to create materials that can carry dynamic messages, graphics or multicolored surfaces. Fabrics like drapes, cushions or sofa coverings become active when they illuminate in order to enhance the observer’s mood and positively influence his/her behavior.

Although the fabrics can be cleaned, the batteries and electronics can be removed, it’s not clear if that includes throwing them in the washing machine.


Laser tapping reveals flaws in rail tracks

New Scientist is reporting that the FDA is testing some new hardware that locates flaws in rail lines using lasers.

The laser pulses create ultrasonic waves that travel through rails at high speed. This means the device can scan for cracks while being pulled along a rail track at up to 112 kilometres (70 miles) per hour – much faster than existing equipment. The machine identifies microscopic fractures by monitoring the strength of ultrasonic waves passing through a rail.

The lasers vaporise a very small amount of the top of the track as they simultaneously generate transsonic waves that can be detected by a microphone positioned ahead of and above the track. This is much improved over previous methods which limited the testing speed to 50 km/hr.

Carbon nanotubes for tiny laser-driven screens?

According to Cornell Nano Techwire Shahyaan Desai, a Cornell graduate student has developed a method of making the core technology for a small laser-driven hand-held projector.

Desai built an optical scanner consisting of a tiny rectangular mirror measuring 400 by 500 microns, supported by two carbon-fiber hinges about 55 microns across. Made to oscillate at 2.5 kHz, the tiny mirror caused a laser beam to scan across a range of up to 180 degrees, corresponding to a 90-degree bend by the carbon fibers.

An oscillating mirror could be used to scan a laser beam across a screen, and an array of mirrors, one for each horizontal line, could produce an image in the same way that a moving electron beam creates an image on a television screen. "It would be an incredibly cheap display," Desai said. And the entire device would be small enough to build into a cell phone to project an image on a wall.

Add color and I might finally be able to have that wall-sized computer display I’ve wanted for so long.

2006 Holography Forum contest

The 2006 Holography Forum hologram making competition is upon us. There are a number of great prizes so join in and make some great holograms.

I’m proud to be a sponsor and will also be entering as a competitor, although if my hologram does make first place I’ll be giving my prize donation to the second place winner.

Through the link is the latest information on the contest and information on my prize donation.

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Holography Wiki

It’s not completely filled out yet but it’s got a good beginning.

The new holography Wiki at HoloWiki is available and if you’d like to participate give Colin Kaminski a shout.  This is a great opportunity to help build up the encyclopedia of holography that we all wish we’d had when starting out.

Rec Center Holo class I

I held the first session of a new holography class at Carpenter Park Recreation Center last night.

It went well although only one of the two students showed. Fortunately she was a sharp young lady and while the session wasn’t as structured as I’d planned I think it went pretty as she was asking good questions and clearly was "getting it".

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7th International Symposium on Display Holography

The Seventh International Symposium on Display Holography is coming up in Wales on July 10-14 and the second call for papers has been made.

This promises to be another great event, I just wish I could make it out there.

Continue reading 7th International Symposium on Display Holography