This may look like one of Saturn’s moons, but it’s actually a tiny sphere of metal rubidium -- an unexpected byproduct in a new process that enables Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of air-filled organs like the lungs. For imaging lungs, patients inhale “hyperpolarized” xenon gas, which is in a special state that allows it to “light up” lung functionality. Hyperpolarization requires contact with laser-illuminated rubidium vapor.
The sewer gnat is a common nuisance around kitchen and bathroom drains that’s no bigger than a pea. But magnified thousands of times, its compound eyes and bushy antennae resemble a first place winner in a Movember mustache contest.
Each day, tens of thousands of patients on waiting lists across the United States await a simple phone call: one that says a match has been found and an organ is available for transplant. Despite a growing demand for donors, organ shortages continue to hinder many patients’ chances in receiving their potentially life-saving call.
This Duke “D” is being lit by electromagnetic waves that are normally invisible to the human eye. But they can be seen here thanks to a dielectric metamaterial filter created by Willie Padilla. Metamaterials are synthetic materials composed of individual, engineered cells that together produce properties not found in nature. In this case, that’s the ability to absorb energy in any specific range across the electromagnetic spectrum and convert it into heat.
The “shooting star” patterns in this Mahato Contest Runner-Up aren’t just dazzling to look at – they may also be useful electronics. Graduate students Kristen Collar and Jincheng Li first found these patterns while growing thin films of the semiconductor gallium arsenide. The “stars” start as droplets of liquid gallium on the film surface; as the film grows, they slowly move across the surface, leaving small solid trails -- nanowires -- in their wake.
This stunning x-ray of a Callimico monkey skeleton, posed as if preparing to jump, was collected by visiting Professor Hesham Sallam at the Duke SMIF lab. In the wild, these pint-sized monkeys can be found in the dense underbrush of the upper Amazon rainforest, leaping from branch to branch in search of tasty berries or bugs.
Duke University researchers believe they have overcome a longstanding hurdle to producing cheaper, more robust ways to print and image across a range of colors extending into the infrared.
As any mantis shrimp will tell you, there are a wide range of "colors" along the electromagnetic spectrum that humans cannot see but which provide a wealth of information. Sensors that extend into the infrared can, for example, identify thousands of plants and minerals, diagnose cancerous melanomas and predict weather patterns, simply by the spectrum of light they reflect.
Like the regular-sized copper wires that power our lamps and computers, miniscule copper nanowires are great at conducting electricity. Duke Professor Benjamin Wiley and his team are investigating how to brew up films thin sheets of copper nanowires that are precisely tailored to work as inexpensive, transparent electrodes in devices like touch screens, light-emitting diodes, and solar cells.