Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Turning metal black more than just a novelty: Laser technique could have important medical implications

Date:
December 8, 2009
Source:
University of Rochester
Summary:
Researchers made headlines recently when they changed the color of everyday metals by scouring their surfaces with precise, high-intensity laser bursts. A recent discovery has shown that beyond the aesthetic opportunities in the finding lie some very powerful potential uses, such as diagnosing some diseases with unprecedented ease and precision.

University of Rochester optics professor Chunlei Guo made headlines in the past couple of years when he changed the color of everyday metals by scouring their surfaces with precise, high-intensity laser bursts.

Suddenly it was possible to make sheets of golden tungsten, or black aluminum.

A recent discovery in Guo's lab has shown that beyond the aesthetic opportunities in his find lie some very powerful potential uses, such as diagnosing some diseases with unprecedented ease and precision.

Along with his research assistant, Anatoliy Vorobyev, Guo has discovered that the altered metals can detect electromagnetic radiation with frequencies in the terahertz range (also known as T-rays), which have been challenging, if not impossible, to detect prior to his discovery.

"When we turned metals black, we knew that they became highly absorptive in the visible wavelength range because the altered metals appear pitch black to the eye. Here, we experimentally demonstrated that the enhanced absorption extends well into the far infrared and terahertz frequencies," Guo said.

With wavelengths shorter than microwaves, but longer than infrared rays, T-rays occupy a place in the electromagnetic spectrum that is capable of exciting rotational and vibrational states of organic compounds, like pathogens. This quality could allow doctors and biomedical researchers to get previously impossible glimpses of diseases on the molecular level.

In addition, unlike X-rays, T-rays are non-ionizing, which means that people who are exposed to them don't risk the possible tissue damage that can result from X-rays.

University of California, Berkeley, bioengineering Professor Thomas Budinger says terahertz radiation is like much-higher-frequency radar, except that it theoretically can allow its users to see intricate details of tissue architecture, on the scale of one-thousandth of a millimeter and smaller, instead of large objects like airplanes and boats.

"Terahertz electromagnetic radiation has the capability to interrogate tissues at the cellular level. If applied within microns of the subject of interest, this form of imaging has the theoretical capability to detect properties of molecular assemblages that could be attributes of disease states," Budinger said.

What made terahertz radiation so difficult to detect in the past was that typical materials do not readily absorb that frequency. However, after undergoing Guo's femtosecond structuring technique, metals become over 30 times more absorptive.

The key to creating the black metal in terahertz is a beam of ultra-brief, ultra-intense laser pulses called femtosecond laser pulses. The laser burst lasts less than a quadrillionth of a second. To get a grasp of that kind of speed, consider that a femtosecond is to a second what a second is to about 32 million years. During its brief burst, Guo's laser unleashes as much power as the entire grid of North America onto a spot the size of a needle point. That intense blast forces the surface of the metal to undergo some dramatic changes and makes them extremely efficient in absorbing terahertz radiation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Rochester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Rochester. "Turning metal black more than just a novelty: Laser technique could have important medical implications." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091208153140.htm>.
University of Rochester. (2009, December 8). Turning metal black more than just a novelty: Laser technique could have important medical implications. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091208153140.htm
University of Rochester. "Turning metal black more than just a novelty: Laser technique could have important medical implications." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091208153140.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

AFP (July 29, 2014) Coal mining is one of the major industries in Baluchistan but a lack of infrastructure and frequent accidents mean that the area has yet to hit its potential. Duration: 01:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

AP (July 29, 2014) The U.S. nuclear industry started building its first new plants using prefabricated Lego-like blocks meant to save time and prevent the cost overruns that crippled the sector decades ago. So far, it's not working. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Newsy (July 28, 2014) Stanford University published its findings for a "pure" lithium ion battery that could have our everyday devices and electric cars running longer. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins