A presentation on performing nanosurgery in living cells with the help of an ultrafast laser was one of the plenary talks given at Photonics West in San Francisco at the beginning of February. Professor Michel Meunier at the École Polytechnique de Montréal in Canada spoke about a new technique his group is developing for nanosurgery that uses what he terms as a laser ‘multi-nanoscalpel’.
Lasers use more electrical energy than they can emit as light, with some of the energy ending up as heat. They therefore have to be cooled and, if heat is not extracted, the quality of the laser beam degrades. Lasers can be cooled with air, water and thermoelectrically, but cutting-edge cooling systems are being developed, and the recent advances in cooling technology have greatly increased the lifespan of lasers, especially for high-power systems.
Miniature microscopes that can be housed in the tip of an endoscope are now being designed to improve cancer diagnosis.
Two research groups, from the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS), in Germany and from Stony Brook University in the USA, are taking advantage of micro-electro- and micro-opto-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS/MOEMS) technology to build tiny microscopes for in vivo diagnosis of suspected cancerous lesions.
While the term 3D printing has certainly garnered a lot of attention in the media, industrial interest in additive manufacturing (AM), as it is known in the manufacturing community, is partly due to its ability to work with new materials. Metal composites, ceramics, reinforced plastics, and many other powder-based materials can now be processed for parts in a range of industries.