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Acoustic tweezers.

Ultrasound used in medical imaging may soon be deployed as a new, noninvasive tool for biomedical research and other applications. The "acoustic tweezers," under development at Penn State University, can move and manipulate tiny objects like blood cells and even small organisms without touching them.

The acoustic tweezers are based on a piezoelectric material that produces mechanical motion when an electrical current is applied. Ultrasound offers a more affordable alternative to optical tweezers or lasers to produce this effect, because it requires less power density, according to Tony Jun Huang, associate professor of bioengineering. It is also far smaller and produces less heat than lasers, thus making the device less likely to damage cells.

Among the potential applications of the device are point-of-care cancer cell sorting and diagnostics, says Huang.

Source: Materials Research Institute, Penn State University,

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Title Annotation:TOMORROW IN BRIEF; noninvasive medical imaging tool
Publication:The Futurist
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2012
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