Special Coverage


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


Scientists Demonstrate Electrical Properties of Topological Insulators

Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have demonstrated for the first time that one can electrically access the remarkable properties predicted for a topological insulator (TI). They used a ferromagnetic metal/tunnel barrier contact as a voltage probe to detect the spin polarization created in the topologically protected surface states when an unpolarized bias current is applied. This accomplishment identifies a successful electrical approach that provides direct access to the TI surface state spin system, significantly advances our fundamental understanding of this new quantum state, and enables utilization of the remarkable properties these materials offer for future technological applications.

Posted in: News, Board-Level Electronics, Electronic Components, Power Management


Engineers Design Software Tools to Secure Tactical Smartphones

Suraj Kothari's talk of smartphone security quickly took a turn toward sabotage and worst-case scenarios. What happens, he asked, if a soldier's smartphone is hacked for its GPS data? What happens if an attacker drains the battery in a general's phone and essential communication is cut off? Or, what happens if a hacked phone provides false information during a military mission?

Posted in: News, PCs/Portable Computers


Air And Missile Defense System To Get Smarter Software

When a missile is launched against an enemy target, it would be nice to have a lot of good information about that target. But when "decision makers push the fire button, they may have very little data, and sometimes not timely enough data," said Col. Rob Rasch Jr., project manager, Integrated Air and Missile Defense Project Office, or IAMD, at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. "Nowhere in the current Army architecture is there a way to share information from all of our various sensors and weapons to have better integrated coverage," he pointed out, referring to situational awareness for those operating Patriot and other missile defense systems like those used for short-range air defense.

Posted in: News, Aviation, Fiber Optics, Photonics, Antennas, Sensors


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


Handheld Optical Device Catches Early Signs of Retinal Disease

A new optical device puts the power to detect eye disease in the palm of a hand. The tool — about the size of a handheld video camera — scans a patient's entire retina in seconds and could aid primary care physicians in the early detection of a host of retinal diseases. The new design is the first to combine cutting-edge technologies such as ultrahigh-speed 3D imaging, a MEMS mirror for scanning, and a technique to correct for unintentional movement by the patient.

Posted in: News


Bending Light with a Tiny Chip

Imagine that you are in a meeting with coworkers or at a gathering of friends. You pull out your cell phone to show a presentation or a video on YouTube. But you don't use the tiny screen; your phone projects a bright, clear image onto a wall or a big screen. Such a technology may be on its way, thanks to a new light-bending silicon chip developed by researchers at Caltech.

Posted in: News, Board-Level Electronics, Electronic Components, Optical Components, Optics, Photonics