Washington, March 19 (ANI): Reports indicate that University of Florida engineering researchers have found they can ignite certain nanoparticles using a low-power laser, a development they say opens the door to a wave of new technologies in health care, computing and automotive design.
According to researchers Vijay Krishna, Nathanael Stevens, Ben Koopman and Brij Moudgil, they used lasers not much more intense than those found in laser pointers to light up, heat or ignite manufactured carbon molecules, known as fullerenes, whose soccer-ball-like shapes had been distorted in certain ways.
They said the discovery suggests a score of important new applications for these so-called "functionalized fullerenes" molecules already being developed for a broad range of industries and commercial and medical products.
"The beauty of this is that it only requires a very low intensity laser," said Moudgil.
The researchers used lasers with power in the range of 500 milliwatts.
Though weak by laser standards, the researchers believe the lasers have enough energy to initiate the uncoiling or unraveling of the modified or functionalized fullerenes.
That process, they believe, rapidly releases the energy stored when the molecules are formed into their unusual shapes, causing light, heat or burning under different conditions.
The researchers tested the technique in three possible applications.
In the first, they infused cancer cells in a laboratory with a variety of functionalized fullerenes known to be biologically safe called polyhydroxy fullerenes.
They then used the laser to heat the fullerenes, destroying the cancer cells from within.
"It caused stress in the cells, and then after 10 seconds we just see the cells pop," said Krishna, a postdoctoral associate in the Particle Engineering Research Center.
He said that the finding suggests doctors could dose patients with the polyhdroxy fullerenes, identify the location of cancers, then treat them using low-power lasers, leaving other tissues unharmed.
Another application would be to image the locations of tumors or other areas of interest in the body using the fullerenes' capability to light up.
The researchers also coated paper with polyhyroxy fullerenes, then used an ultrahigh resolution laser to write a miniature version of the letters "UF."
The demonstration suggests that the technique could be used for many applications that require extremely minute, precise, lithography. (ANI)