Innovation That Matters

Surgeons | Photo source Olga Guryanova on Unsplash

Biocompatible nanolaser small enough to treat brain diseases

Health & Wellbeing

By working inside living tissue, the laser opens up myriad opportunities for new medical treatments and preventative healthcare.

Spotted: The nanolaser is one one-thousandth the thickness of a human hair. Made entirely of glass, it is biocompatible and safe for use within living tissue. As well as providing early and detailed medical diagnostics, the nanolaser may also be useful for work with microprocessors and quantum circuits. 

Developed by a partnership between Northwestern and Columbia universities, the nanolaser works with both long and short wavelengths of light. That allows it to work in particularly tricky, confined spaces where both wavelengths of light are useful for intricate analysis. 

Teri Odom, the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, co-authored the work with P. James Schuck from Columbia University’s School of Engineering.

The researchers believe that the laser’s size and agility may make it possible to identify biomarkers of disease before an illness develops. Work on the laser continues, and preventative healthcare uses are an important aspect of its development. 

Springwise has spotted a number of nano innovations, with many in the field of healthcare. A new nanofiber solution filters air without blocking light and a nano-array is used in a breathalyser for early detection of Parkinson’s disease. 



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