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Revolutionizing the diagnosis of serious disease
Date:6/2/2009

Revolutionary ultrasonic nanotechnology that could allow scientists to see inside a patient's individual cells to help diagnose serious illnesses is being developed by researchers at The University of Nottingham.

The new technique would utilise ultrasound technology more commonly used to look at whole bodies such as fetal scanners to look inside cells. The components of the new technology would be many thousand times smaller than current systems.

The technology would be tiny enough to allow scientists to see inside and image individual cells in the human body, which would further our understanding of the structure and function of cells and could help to detect abnormalities to diagnose serious illnesses such as some cancers.

The work by the Ultrasonics Group in the Division of Electrical Systems and Optics has been deemed so potentially innovative it has recently been awarded a 850,000 five-year Platform Grant by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Ultrasound refers to sound waves that are at a frequency too high to be detected by the human ear, typically 20 kHz and above. Medical ultrasound uses an electrical transducer the size of a matchbox to produce sound waves at much higher frequencies, typically around 100-1000 times higher to probe bodies.

The Nottingham researchers are aiming to produce a miniaturised version of this technology, with transducers so tiny that you could fit 500 across the width of one human hair which would produce sound waves at frequencies a thousand times higher again, in the GHz range.

Dr Matt Clark of the Ultrasonics Group, said: "By examining the mechanical properties inside a cell there is a huge amount that we can learn about its structure and the way it functions. But it's very much a leap into the unknown as this has never been achieved before.

"One of the reasons for this is that it presents an enormous technical challenge. To produce
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Contact: Lindsay Brooke
lindsay.brooke@nottingham.ac.uk
44-115-951-5751
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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