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University Engineers in America’s Heartland Create Unique High-Resolution Touch Nano-Sensor Which Could Prove to Be A Breakthrough Tool for Surgeons

Dr. Ravi Saraf of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Tells NWN More About This Novel Device.
Dr. Saraf and his team reported this month that they have developed a high-resolution touch sensor, one that uses a self-assembling nanoparticle device and acts much like a human finger. The self-assembly process developed by the research team involves no complex lithography, thus proving to be cost-effective and would be relatively easy to reproduce.

This device has the ability to sense texture by touch, which is vital for surgeons who need the “touch sensation” in order to operate with precision and accuracy, such as when it comes to detecting and removing cancer cells from the body. One of the most important applications of this newly created sensor is the potential it holds for cancer surgeons, who are faced with the difficult task of knowing where to stop cutting when removing cancer cells in the body.

“The idea of using nanoscale technologies to make an electronic skin is original,” Dr. Saraf tells NWN. “In our particular development of artificial skin, the nano device structure allows us to attain resolution of ~20 microns (perhaps even less). As this dimension is comparable to single cell dimension, we hope to "see" a single cancer cell in a tissue.”

Dr. Saraf and many other researchers are excited about the doors that nanotechnology opens for health sciences research, and understand its strong potential for medical applications. Dr. Saraf observes, “I think the primary reason why nanotechnology will impact medicine in general is the compatibility at the length scales and the energetics. Living organisms are perhaps the most sophisticated nanosystem (not just nanodevices!) we have witnessed. Thus, there is a good probability that man-made artificial nanodevices and nanostructures will be compatible at structural level. I expect to see more compatibility between our man-made nanodevices/nanostructures and biological system not just for cancer research but a wide range of applications, including robotics.”

According to Dr. Saraf, their next goal is “to make a high resolution thermal imaging device, and develop an ultra sound detector with a much better image resolution so we can detect malignant tumors at early stages.”

NSTI Nanotech 2006 in Boston featured a track devoted to nanotechnology for cancer prevention, diagnostics, and treatment. To learn more, please read the related story or visit the Nanotech 2006 page at feed of Nano World News

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