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It’s in the Material

It’s in the Material

Scientists from various institutions, including Harvard Medical School and MIT, have incorporated microscopic sensors into thread to gather diagnostic data. The threads are dipped in compounds that can sense shifts in temperature, glucose and blood pressure. In rats, the smart thread accurately relayed information to a wireless computer. The researchers hope to employ the thread to monitor how a stitched-up wound is healing and catch any infections.

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Researchers at the University of North Carolina have devised a material that could be folded up, inserted into the body and programmed to change into a certain shape at the right time and place. The shape-shifting stuff doesn’t need any external trigger to change form. Rather, it relies on two types of chemical bonds: one that controls how it shifts shapes, and one that stores information on the final shape.  Such a material could be used for medical implants for bones or joints.

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After researchers at Rice University fused microscopic flakes of graphene oxide together, scientists at the University of Texas cultured cells on the material to show it could be used as a strong, flexible bone replacement. An alternative to titanium, the graphene oxide bends more easily to create the complex shapes of human bones and exhibits the strength needed to endure everyday stress on the body’s skeleton.

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