Health, Medicine, & Biotechnology

Transient Electronics Dissolve When Triggered

An Iowa State research team led by Reza Montazami is developing "transient materials" and "transient electronics" that can quickly and completely melt away when a trigger is activated. The development could mean that one day you might be able to send out a signal to destroy a lost credit card.To demonstrate that potential, Montazami played a video showing a blue light-emitting diode mounted on a clear polymer composite base with the electrical leads embedded inside. After a drop of water, the base and wiring began to melt away. As the technology develops, Montazami sees more and more potential for the commercial application of transient materials. A medical device, once its job is done, could harmlessly melt away inside a person’s body. A military device could collect and send its data and then disappear, leaving no trace of an intelligence mission. An environmental sensor could collect climate information, then wash away in the rain. SourceAlso: Read other Electronics & Computers tech briefs.

Posted in: News, Electronic Components, Electronics, Environmental Monitoring, LEDs, Composites, Plastics

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Wireless Device Senses Chemical Vapors

A research team at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) has developed a small electronic sensing device that can alert users wirelessly to the presence of chemical vapors in the atmosphere. The technology, which could be manufactured using familiar aerosol-jet printing techniques, is aimed at myriad applications in military, commercial, environmental, and healthcare areas.The current design integrates nanotechnology and radio-frequency identification (RFID) capabilities into a small working prototype. An array of sensors uses carbon nanotubes and other nanomaterials to detect specific chemicals, while an RFID integrated circuit informs users about the presence and concentrations of those vapors at a safe distance wirelessly.Because it is based on programmable digital technology, the RFID component can provide greater security, reliability and range – and much smaller size – than earlier sensor designs based on non-programmable analog technology. The present GTRI prototype is 10 centimeters square, but further designs are expected to squeeze a multiple-sensor array and an RFID chip into a one-millimeter-square device printable on paper or on flexible, durable substrates such as liquid crystal polymer.SourceAlso: Learn about Extended-Range Passive RFID and Sensor Tags.

Posted in: News, Wireless, Electronic Components, Electronics, Environmental Monitoring, Detectors, Sensors

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Mini Science Lab Detects Multiple Bio Agents

It can cost hundreds of dollars and days to scan biological materials for important biomarkers that signal diseases such as diabetes or cancer using industry standard equipment. Researchers face enormous time constraints and financial hurdles from having to run these analyses on a regular basis. A Northeastern University professor has developed a single instrument that can do multiple scans at a fraction of the time and cost. That's because it uses considerably less material and ultra-sensitive detection methods to do the same thing. ScanDrop is a portable instrument no bigger than a shoebox that has the capacity to detect a variety of biological specimen. For that reason it will benefit a wide range of users beyond the medical community, including environmental monitoring and basic scientific research. The instrument acts as a miniature science lab, of sorts. It contains a tiny chip, made of polymer or glass, connected to equally tiny tubes. An extremely small-volume liquid sample — whether it's water or a biological fluid such as serum — flows in one of those tubes, through the lab-on-a-chip device, and out the other side. While inside, the sample is exposed to a slug of microscopic beads functionalized to react with the lab test's search parameters. The beads fluoresce when the specific marker or cell in question has been detected; from there, an analysis by ScanDrop can provide the concentration levels of that marker or cell. Because the volumes being tested with ScanDrop are so small, the testing time dwindles to just minutes. This means you could get near-real time measures of a changing sample — be it bacteria levels in a flowing body of water or dynamic insulin levels in the bloodstream of a person with diabetes. Source

Posted in: News, Environmental Monitoring, Diagnostics, Fluid Handling, Detectors, Sensors, Measuring Instruments

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Smartphones Become "Eye-Phones" to Capture Images of the Eye

Two inexpensive adapters enable a smartphone to capture high-quality images of the front and back of the eye, enabling users to share them securely with other health practitioners or store it in a patient's electronic record. The researchers see this technology as an opportunity to increase access to eye-care services as well as to improve the ability to advise on patient care remotely.

Posted in: News, PCs/Portable Computers, Diagnostics, Patient Monitoring

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$19 Million Funding Awarded for Additive Manufacturing Projects

Fifteen projects have received funding for applied R&D projects in additive manufacturing. America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, announced the 15 awardees of its second call for additive manufacturing (AM) applied research and development projects. Driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, America Makes will provide $9 million in funding toward these projects with $10.3 million in matching cost share from the awarded project teams for total funding worth $19.3 million. The projects are expected to commence in early Spring.

Posted in: Briefs, Briefs

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Making Injection Molding More Energy Efficient

Thin-film heating can improve the quality of plastic parts. In the future, thin-film heating will allow plastic parts to be produced with greatly improved surface quality. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM, Freiburg, Germany, say they have found a way to make the whole process more energy efficient.

Posted in: Briefs, Briefs

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Using Molded Foam Makes Assembly a Snap

Today, medical devices are made using a variety of plastic materials and manufacturing processes. Advances in plastic processing make it possible to obtain virtually any shape, form, or function. In addition, the vast assortment of plastics available allows designers to design for the optimal balance of functionality, performance, and cost. Expanded polypropylene (EPP) is a plastic material that is starting to gain traction in the medical device market as product designers become more familiar with the multiple benefits it can provide.

Posted in: Briefs, Briefs

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