Identifying Cancer Deep inside Body Tissue Now Possible With Carbon Nanotubes

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An innovative medical imaging technique has been developed by the Researchers at Rice University in Houston, Texas. This technique combines LED light, photodiode detector, and carbon nanotubes to identify the exact location of tumors that are buried 20 millimeters deep in the simulated tissue. According to the researchers, it is the deepest till date that the carbon nanotubes have been identified inside the tissue.

As per the details of the research, the Rice team utilized the efficacy of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) to luminesce in the SWIR or the short-wave infrared region of the spectrum. While the SWNT luminesce effects has previously proven to be effective in lighting the internal organs, researchers were but not able to proficiently detect and specify the source of the SWIR emission from within the tissues. They, therefore, came up with a new answer known as Spectral triangulation.

In this technique, the SWNTs that are buried in the tissue are excited by the bright LED lights. The light makes the nanotubes luminesce, and then, the infrared emissions are captured by a scanning fiber optic analyzing device that is linked to an indium gallium arsenide avalanche photodiode detector.

As specified by Bruce Weisman, a Nanoengineering professor at the Rice Chemistry, materials science, “We are utilizing profound detector that has been exploited for such kind of work before.” The avalanche photodiode detector can calculate photons in the short-wave infrared, which is a big challenge spectral array for light sensors. The crucial aim is to identify how efficiently can be detected the tiny concentrations of nanotubes inside biological tissues. It will also have possible applications in the biomedical diagnosis.

The novel method of the Rice team differs from the conventional approaches in few innovative ways. Firstly, it uses LEDs for exciting the SWNTs where usually lasers are used to perform this activity. But the laser beams were not able to deliver much efficient and refined result as it scatters inside the surface. Another interesting differentiation is the technique utilized for determining how profoundly buried the SWNTs are inside the tissue. It has been possible because of the fiber optic probe that comes in contact with the tissue surface and captures the readings along grid points that makes it feasible to determine the Y and X coordinates of the nanotubes.

As explained by Weisman in this context, “We utilize different wavelengths of the nanotube emission that are absorbed in a different way traveling through tissue. The water surrounding the tissue surface captivates the extensive wavelengths emitted from nanotubes much more fiercely than it does for shorter wavelengths. It implies that the nanotubes near to the surface, the short and long wavelength emissions are analogous in intensity because there are a smaller amount of tissues between the detector and the nanotubes for absorbing longer wavelengths.

Conclusion – The medical imaging technique introduced by the team of Rice University, Texas is expected to bring great success in the field of biomedical. It is because it enables to detect not only the presence of tumor buried deep inside the body tissue but also to identify their exact depth. Seeking its efficiency, even the researchers at the Texas University MD Anderson Cancer Center are also examining the detector.