Aerosols – Are They Back for Good?
Let’s face it – aerosols have got quite a bad reputation in our culture at the moment.
After their use in abundance during the ‘80’s (remember that hair!), to their bad publicity in the 90’s and their blame in the destruction of the ozone layer with the negative impact on the environment. It really would take something pretty spectacular to redeem the poor aerosols reputation.
Well, it looks like science may have found just the solution!
A team of researchers from MIT have found a use for aerosols which is not only extremely useful, but beneficial for both our health and the environment.
They have managed to develop a spray which contains nanobots. These are essentially tiny sensors which can be used for a whole range of tasks – even diagnosing health issues. Their research was published here in Nature Nanotechnology.
So how does it work?
Each sensor in the spray contains two parts.
The first part is a tiny molecule called a colloid, which can remain in liquid or air indefinitely.
The second part is a complex circuit, which contains a chemical detector, and can also produce its own power needed to collect data.
Researchers have managed to graft these two parts together and have converted them into a spray form, which we know as an aerosol.
So what does this mean in our day to day life?
Well, it is possible for the engineers to spray the aerosol down a pipeline if they were looking for a breach on the pipelines system for example a crack or hole in the pipe. They can then use the data from the aerosol to exactly pinpoint where there is a problem, such as an encounter with a chemical which should not be there which would indicate where there is a potential breach in the pipe.
This process would have otherwise required a manual inspection of the exterior of the pipe which could be time consuming, labor intensive, costly and not to mention physically difficult.
But what does this mean for health?
The MIT team noted that this exact same technology could be used to diagnose health issues. For example – The nanobots could travel along a patient’s digestive tract gathering data, and relaying it to a medical professional. The potential here is that the nanobots would be able to flag up a problem or a potential problem helping to diagnose the patient in the least invasive way possible.
Does this sound like the stuff of dreams?
Well yes it does! But don’t forget that not so long ago, wearable devices such as trackers that we now use daily to monitor blood pressure, heart rate and even sleep patterns were once seen as impossible technological devices, reserved for Hollywood films and science fiction.
At the end of the day, health care and technology are both advancing together at a phenomenal rate. At Aimedis, part of our focus is on harnessing these technologies, and using the technology available through wearable devices to improve patient monitoring and care.
Aerosol nanobots may be here and a part of your routine health care diagnostics sooner than you think!