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Carbon Nanotube Sensors Can Monitor Molecules In Your Body For Over a Year

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nanotube sensorMIT chemical engineering professor Michael Strano has devoted a lot of lab time, resources, and postdocs to figuring out ways to measure and better understand the role of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule that exists in living cells, and while scientists know that it transfers information within the brain and helps coordinate bodily systems and functions such as the immune system, they’ve never really understood how nitric oxide works. They do know, though, that in cancerous cells, the nitric oxides levels are off, indicating that it has some role in the progression of cancer. In an attempt to learn more about that role, Strano and his lab have devised a measurement tool.

The tool is a nitric oxide-monitoring sensor that can remain under the skin of a living being for over a year. The sensor would specifically monitor inflammation, which produces nitric oxide. The sensor is made of carbon nanotubes, which are about one nanometer (one billionth of a meter — the average germ is about 1,000 nanometers) thick. A carbon nanotube sensor works when scientists wrap them with a molecule that attaches to a specific target. When the binding occurs, the natural fluorescence of the carbon tube gets brighter or dimmer.

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Scientists Levitate Diamonds With Laser Light

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laserScientists are just showing off now. Of all the ridiculously cool stuff they’ve been up to lately, like making self-assembling, flying robots and anti-matter guns, they can now levitate diamonds using lasers.

Unbeknownst to most of us, light has the power to move particles, especially if focused to a tiny point. Scientists from the University of Rochester published their findings from an experiment in which a laser light exerted a pull on diamond nanocrystals. The process is called “laser trapping,” and the University of Rochester scientists were able to use this method to levitate nanodiamonds in free space.

They sprayed an aerosol of dissolved nanodiamonds into a small chamber, where they moved directly into the laser’s path. “It takes a couple of squirts, and in a few minutes we have a trapped nanodiamond,” researcher Levi Neukirch said. “Once a diamond wanders into the trap, we can hold it for hours.”