Academic journal article The Science Teacher

An Invisible Scalpel Made of Sound

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

An Invisible Scalpel Made of Sound

Article excerpt

A carbon-nanotube-coated lens that converts light to sound can focus high-pressure sound waves to finer points than ever before. The University of Michigan engineering researchers who developed the new therapeutic ultrasound approach say it could lead to an invisible knife for noninvasive surgery.

Doctors already routinely use focused sound waves to blast apart kidney stones and prostate tumors. The tools work primarily by focusing sound waves tightly enough to generate heat, says Jay Guo, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science. But the beams that today's technology produces can be unwieldy, says Hyoung Won Baac, who worked as a doctoral student in Guo's lab.

"A major drawback of current strongly focused ultrasound technology is a bulky focal spot," Baac said. "It can be difficult to treat tissue objects in a high-precision manner. We can enhance the focal accuracy 100-fold."

The team was able to concentrate high-amplitude sound waves to a speck just 75 by 400 micrometers (thousandths of a millimeter). …

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