Using a 3D printer, Princeton University has devised a bionic ear. The fully functional ear is said to hear radio frequencies far beyond the range of normal human capability.
The idea behind the research is to merge electronics with tissue. The ability to devise 3D biological tissue with functional electronics could enable the creation of bionic organs, according to researchers. But current electronics are limited to 2D structures, preventing the integration of biological systems and conventional chips.
Researchers have devised a novel strategy to overcome these difficulties. In a proof of concept, Princeton used a 3D printer to devise a cell-seeded hydrogel matrix in the precise anatomic geometry of a human ear. Researchers also intertwined a conducting polymer consisting of silver nanoparticles. “This allowed for the in vitro culturing of cartilage tissue around an inductive coil antenna in the ear, which subsequently connects to cochlear-like electrodes,” according to researchers.
The printed ear exhibits enhanced auditory sensing for RF reception. “In general, there are mechanical and thermal challenges with interfacing electronic materials with biological materials,” said Michael McAlpine, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton, on the university’s Web site. “Previously, researchers have suggested some strategies to tailor the electronics so that this merger is less awkward. That typically happens between a 2D sheet of electronics and a surface of the tissue. However, our work suggests a new approach—to build and grow the biology up with the electronics synergistically and in a 3D interwoven format.”
Purdue University has devised a new super-resolution optical microscopy technology, thereby paving the way to view structures on the nanoscopic scale.
The imaging system, called saturated transient absorption microscopy, (STAM), is designed for use in biomedical and nanotechnology research. Researchers have taken images of graphite nanoplatelets at about 100nm wide. Researchers hope to improve the imaging system to see objects at about 10nm in diameter. This is about 30 times smaller than possible using conventional optical microscopes.
Current far-field, super-resolution techniques rely on fluorescence as the readout. However, Purdue has demonstrated a scheme for breaking the diffraction limit in far-field imaging of non-fluorescent species. Researchers accomplished this by using spatially controlled saturation of electronic absorption.
The method is based on a pump–probe process, where a modulated pump field perturbs the charge carrier density in a sample, according to Purdue. This, in turn, modulates the transmission of a probe field, according to researchers.
A doughnut-shaped laser beam is then added to transiently saturate the electronic transition in the periphery of the focal volume. The induced modulation in the sequential probe pulse only occurs at the focal center. By raster-scanning the three collinearly aligned beams, high-speed subdiffraction-limited imaging of graphite nanoplatelets is performed.
Diamonds Are Forever
Element Six and Delft University of Technology have demonstrated the entanglement of an electron spin effect of quantum bits in two synthetic diamonds separated in space. This is a step toward achieving a diamond-based quantum network, quantum repeaters and long-distance teleportation, thereby changing the way information is processed in networks and computers.
The collaboration used two synthetic diamonds of millimeter-size that were grown by Element Six through a proprietary chemical vapor deposition (CVD) technology. The synthetic diamonds were engineered to contain a particular defect that can be manipulated using light and microwaves. The defect consists of a single nitrogen atom adjacent to a missing carbon atom—known as a nitrogen vacancy (NV) defect.
The entanglement process is what Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” This is a process where the two NV defects become strongly connected such that they are always correlated irrespective of the distance between them.
Researchers were able to make the two NV defects emit indistinguishable particles of light or photons. These photons contained the quantum information of the NV defect and further manipulation allowed the quantum mechanically entanglement of the two defects.
“By applying the invaluable knowledge gained in our research, we’re able to successfully develop and advance extreme performance solutions for our customers that capitalize on synthetic diamond’s unique combination of properties, which can subsequently be leveraged across a range of industries,” said Adrian Wilson, head of Element Six, a developer of synthetic diamonds and a member of the De Beers Group.