Star Trek-style medical analysis moves a step closer with nanotechnology

23 January 2012

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

Nanoscientists have unveiled a new breakthrough in the field that could see the tricorder devices used in iconic science fiction series Star Trek become a reality.

The handheld medical scanners were used by the crew of the enterprise to provide details about the health of subjects and researchers in the UK and Singapore are now claiming to have achieved a feat that may lead to similar gadgets.

According to the specialists from Imperial College London and the Singaporean Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), they have found a new way of employing nanotechnology to create electromagnetic terahertz radiation.

This is similar technology to that used in full-body security scanners and the stronger and more continuous T-rays developed by the team could be used in medical devices in the future.

Waves have been created in room temperature conditions and the scientists claim they can identify biological phenomena including tumours and increased blood flow, as well as offering faster data communication.

Stefan Maier of Imperial College London stated: "T-rays promise to revolutionize medical scanning to make it faster and more convenient, potentially relieving patients from the inconvenience of complicated diagnostic procedures and the stress of waiting for accurate results."

Medical applications that employ nanotechnology look set to become increasingly widespread, according to a new report from BCC Research.

The analyst has predicted that nanomedical global sales will rise from $72.8 billion (£46.8 billion) last year to $130.9 billion in 2016, rising at a compound annual growth rate of 12.5 per cent, driven by the cardiovascular and anti-inflammatories segments of the market in particular.

The US is currently responsible for around one-third of publications and half of patent filings relating to nanomedicine, although Europe is ahead in research terms, the report revealed, which BCC suggests is indicative of greater commercialization within the US industry.

Related Standards

PD 6699-3:2010

DD ISO/TS 10867:2010

BS EN ISO 10808:2010

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