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World's Tiniest Radiometer To Power Medical Scanner 37

Posted by timothy
from the good-weekend-for-it dept.
BuzzSkyline writes "University of Texas physicists have built the world's smallest radiometer. The minuscule radiometer is only 2 millimeters across and operates on the same principles as the common light-driven toy, which consists of spinning black and white vanes in a partially evacuated bulb. The researchers attached a mirror to their tiny radiometer and used it to rapidly scan a laser beam. Their hope is that they will be able to incorporate the radiometer into catheters to drive scanners that produce medical images of the interiors of blood vessels and organs. The devices would replace micromotors in conventional catheter-based scanners, eliminating the need to run potentially risky electrical currents into the body."
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World's Tiniest Radiometer To Power Medical Scanner

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  • by JustOK (667959)

    You want to put what where?

  • by thms (1339227) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @08:40PM (#32789242)

    At first this "Because there's obviously no sunlight in the body, this light-mill pulls its power from a laser run up through the center of the catheter." seemed rather silly. When you already have a cable why not use that to get all the power you want? But later on the articles mentions that blood vessels really don't like anything above one volt. Other generators/motors (applying an alternating external magnetic field maybe) produce too much voltage already, so producing the power via photons is a safe alternative.

    On a related note, I wonder how far the tech for burning blood sugar in a fuel cell is, that would allow for long independent operation of tiny devices and since nothing rotates should scale low wrt. voltage

    • by causality (777677) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @09:02PM (#32789350)

      At first this "Because there's obviously no sunlight in the body, this light-mill pulls its power from a laser run up through the center of the catheter." seemed rather silly. When you already have a cable why not use that to get all the power you want? But later on the articles mentions that blood vessels really don't like anything above one volt.

      So by reading the fine article you answered your own question.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        This RTFAing must stop! And flaunting about it is even worse, this will encourage others and become the doom of Slashdot!
      • So by reading the fine article you answered your own question.

        He was just documenting one of the first explorations of The Fine Article that a Slashdot inhabitant has ever made, so that others of us might be able to learn from his experiences. I was intrigued by how his initial "well that's dumb" thought was actually addressed by the article. It shows that reading The Fine Article that is so often spoken of might offer something new, untapped. I hope other daring Slashdot inhabitants venture into this n

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Sulphur (1548251)

      This points out a need to revise the expression "where the sun doesn't shine."

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kurokame (1764228)

      At first this "Because there's obviously no sunlight in the body, this light-mill pulls its power from a laser run up through the center of the catheter." seemed rather silly. When you already have a cable why not use that to get all the power you want? But later on the articles mentions that blood vessels really don't like anything above one volt.

      Also, the optical approach means that the concept can be adapted for use while the patient is inside an MRI. Wire-free is often handy when you're building neat toys for medical use.

      I'm sad though, everyone seems to have missed the best line. This new device is a power source, right?

      ... he hopes the micromotor will eventually find uses in cancer imaging.

      "It has yet to realize its full potential," said Condit.

      Get it? Get it? Oh, c'mon, the pun wasn't THAT bad...

  • Imagine a little rotating mirror on a chip of some kind. A photon hits it. The mirror flips into a different state and the photon goes off in a particular direction. Another photon hits it. The mirror flips again and the photon goes off in a different direction. In each case you can selectively flip the mirror back to restore the state of that "bit".

    Sound good? Can we make it faster and smaller than working with electrons?

    • A photon hits it. The mirror flips into a different state and the photon goes off in a particular direction. Another photon hits it. The mirror flips again.

      That's wonderful. Now we just need some big machine to examine the state of the mirror, aim the photons in the right direction, generate photons, etc. Wait, this might be a little bigger than nano-scale...

  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @08:56PM (#32789314)

    The "common toy" is not a radiometer. It's a heat engine. The bulb is only partially evacuated and the hotter, black side of the vanes heats up the gas molecules, which then bounce off it with increased vigor, compared to the white side. So the vanes spin with the white side going forward.

    A true radiometer would be bouncing photons off the white side, and spinning with the black side leading.

    The heat-engine version has many times the efficiency of the photon one.

     

  • But... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EdIII (1114411) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @09:54PM (#32789488)

    eliminating the need to run potentially risky electrical currents into the body.

    But.. But.. The fine folks at Taser International Inc say there is no risk!

    I'm confused.

  • Like many of us, I've had a parent undergo heart surgery. I don't recall concerns about cath's electricity, but I know today's technology fails to detect atherosclerosis (artery thickening) until very late stages. If this can deliver "high quality, 3D-images from inside arteries and blood vessels" it could prevent heart attacks and open heart surgery. Don't get me wrong, coronary catheterization has helped this generation survive heart disease and enjoy a better quality of life. But "stress tests" and famil
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @10:24PM (#32789592)

    The devices would replace micromotors in conventional catheter-based scanners, eliminating the need to run potentially risky electrical currents into the body.

    You had me at "catheter" and "electrical current".

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Like2Byte (542992)

      The devices would replace micromotors in conventional catheter-based scanners, eliminating the need to run potentially risky electrical currents into the body.

      You had me at "catheter" and "electrical current".

      If that's what you're in to. They had me at "replace".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Look, I know it doesn't literally spin.

    But the analogy needs to be rethought. Because, the Crooke's thing, a laser, and my urethra don't sound compatible.

    sigh. some intelligent people should really be reclassified as savants.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BuzzSkyline (905506)
      It does, literally, spin. Look at the video.
    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      Because, the Crooke's thing, a laser, and my urethra don't sound compatible.

      You forgot to mention putting it all in a delicate glass bulb before shoving it into your urethra. But leaving that aside, WIMP !

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