Medical Imaging

Deep-tissue optical imaging may soon be getting easier – or at least, the images may soon be getting sharper. That’s because an international team of scientists have developed photoluminescent nanoparticles that are able to shine through over three centimeters (1.2 inches) of biological tissue. If attached to anomalies deep beneath the skin, the nanoparticles could allow those anomalies to be seen more clearly from the outside. Read More
To increase stealth and evade predators, the moth has evolved a remarkable eye that, rather than reflecting light, absorbs it almost completely. Engineers have mimicked its nanostructure in the past to design better solar panel coatings and antireflective surfaces, and are now using the same principle to design a thin film that will absorb radiation from X-ray machines more effectively, exposing patients to a significantly lower risk while obtaining higher quality imaging. Read More
Two years ago, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S. developed a tiny magnetic sensor that could detect the human heartbeat without touching the subject's skin. Now, the same team has improved the sensitivity of the device tenfold, making it capable of measuring human brain activity and becoming almost as sensitive - but much cheaper and easier to operate - than the best magnetometers available today. Read More
A new X-ray microscope at Brookhaven National Laboratory is being used to create unparalleled high-resolution 3D images of the inner structure of materials. Using techniques similar to taking a very small-scale medical CAT (computer-assisted tomography) scan, the full field transmission x-ray microscope (TXM) enables scientists to directly observe structures spanning 25 nanometers - three thousand times smaller than a red blood cell - by splicing together thousands of images into a single 3D X-ray image with "greater speed and precision than ever before." This capability is expected to power rapid advances in many fields, including energy research, environmental sciences, biology, and national defense. Read More
Remember all those science fiction movies and television shows that depicted people in a future time, talking to life-sized holographic images? That time is now. A research team from Queen's University in Ontario has developed a video communications system that allows you to speak with an eerie three-dimensional representation of the person on the other end of the line. Read More
Scientists at Stanford University’s School of Medicine have created nanoparticles that are able to precisely highlight brain tumors. Because the nanoparticles can be imaged in three different ways, they can be used to delineate the boundaries of tumors before and during brain surgery to ease the complete removal of tumors. The scientists have already used the nanoparticles to remove brain tumors from mice with unprecedented accuracy and hope the technique could be used on humans in the future. Read More

When you're learning how to use a complex device, there’s nothing like getting some hands on play time. When it comes to CT (Computed Tomography) scanners, however, it’s often difficult to find a time when they’re not being used on patients. That’s why two biophysics professors at Canada’s Western University invented the DeskCAT. It’s a miniature CT scanner that’s small enough to sit on a desk, so it can be used in medical school classrooms. Read More

Current medical imaging technology misses important data regarding muscle contraction, including the ways in which a muscle’s shape changes when it contracts, how the muscle bulges, and how its internal fibers become more curved ... or at least, so Simon Fraser University (SFU)’s associate professor James Wakeling tells us. In order to remedy that situation, he has developed a new method of imaging contracting muscles, that he claims should allow researchers to observe never-before-seen details of muscle activation. Read More
We recently looked at one of the potential contenders in the US$10 million Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE, which as the name suggests, was inspired by the medical tricorder of Star Trek fame. Now scientists have developed a new way of creating Terahertz (THz) or T-rays, which they say could help make handheld devices with tricorder-like capabilities a reality. Read More
IBM scientists in Zurich have created a proof-of-concept device, that could change the way that human tissue samples are analyzed. Presently, samples must be stained with a biomarker solution in order to detect the presence of a disease. The staining process can be quite involved, however, plus it is subject to error – too much of the solution can cause inaccurate results, for instance. Additionally, it can sometimes be difficult to perform enough tests using the small amount of tissue extracted in most biopsies. The IBM technology, though it still involves staining, is said to offer a potential solution to these shortcomings. Read More