Imagine an ultrasound device so small, it could travel through the eardrum, onwards through the middle ear and then rest against the inner ear to provide images of the basilier membrane as at it vibrates, sending messages to the brain as it interprets sound.
It’s not science fiction a la Fantastic Voyage—it’s what Dalhousie University researcher Jeremy Brown is developing in collaboration with ear surgeon Manohar Bance, professor of Otology, Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery with Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine.
“We’ve been taking what’s called a ‘bench top to bedside’ approach,” says Dr. Brown, assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering at Dalhousie. “I’d have no idea if this was possible unless I was paired with a surgeon … the collaboration is working out great so far.”
The miniature device measures a mere two millimeters in diameter. Yet, even at that size, the probe contains 150 elements—tiny transducers that vibrate when electric signals are applied. Once planted deep within the ear through a minor surgical procedure, the probe would be able to detect scarring from implants in the middle ear, for example, or detect the ravages of diseases like Meniere’s, an inner-ear disorder which causes episodes of vertigo.
“What’s exciting is that no one has really done this before,” says Dr. Brown, whose interest in sound and sound perception comes from being a musician.
Now, the researchers are ready to take the next step and build on prototypes that have been tested on mice. Money received from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation’s Leaders Opportunity Fund and matched by the Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust—$311,000 all told—will allow them to acquire equipment developed by the semi-conductor industry to build and further refine the miniature devices.
“This equipment is so unbelievably good, that we can just piggyback on it to do what we need it to do,” says Dr. Brown.
He is also collaborating with Dr. Bance on a second “small” project, to develop tiny, surgically implanted hearing aids.
Charles Crosby | Newswise Science News
Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin
Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy