Physicians usually rely on surgery or drugs to bust blood clots in the brain that might otherwise cause a stroke, but sound waves might provide a third noninvasive choice. U.S. researchers have begun testing an Israeli ultrasound device to see whether it may prove accurate enough to break up a clot without causing collateral damage in the brain, Technology Review reports.
A standard home audio speaker converts electrical signals into sound pulses in the air (via a somewhat cumbersome cone). Those sound waves in turn cause tiny variations in air temperature, as waves disrupt surrounding air. So, scientists reasoned, why not create sound waves through those temperature fluctuations themselves?
In 2008 researchers built a loudspeaker from carbon nanotubes that creates sound from this thermoacoustic effect. Now Finnish researchers have created a far more simple thermoacoustic device using tiny aluminum wires suspended over a substrate, opening thermoacoustics to a far broader range of applications.
Imaging an unborn fetus and and spotting a lurking submarine could both become much easier with the world's first acoustic hyperlens. The device manipulates imaging sound waves to provide an eightfold increase in the magnification power of technologies such as ultrasound and sonar.
Imagine going in for a brain procedure where you have to endure neither an invasive, cut-you-up procedure nor radiation treatment. When it was finished, you could enjoy a glass of bubbly with your doctors, and go home shortly thereafter. It's close to becoming a reality.