Technology Bulletin 182

DN Staff

July 10, 1995

8 Min Read
Technology Bulletin

Laser repairs sun-damaged skin effortlessly

Americans spend millions of dollars a year on creams, lotions, and reputed magic potions to undo the damage of prolonged exposure to the sun. Most efforts are futile. At the Lahey Hitchcock Medical Center, Burlington, MA, however, an advanced medical laser, the Coherent(R) Computerized Pattern Generator (CPG(TM)), rejuvenates and repairs photo-aged skin on a patient's face. Similar new laser technology performs virtually bloodless plastic eyelid surgery and facelifts. Brooke R. Seckel, the center's chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery, is among a handful of surgeons worldwide pioneering the medical technology. "There is no question that the laser option is far more appealing than using agents or abrasives on skin," he notes. He adds that the laser resurfacing is more precise, affecting only the layers of skin desired. There is no bleeding, less pain, decreased incidence of infection, and quicker recovery. Patients undergoing the treatment are released in hours. FAX Ralph N. Fuller at (617) 273-8928 .

Alliances advance clean-coal process technology

DynaMotive Corp., Vancouver, BC, Canada, has formed a series of strategic agreements, including one with Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) Canada Inc., designed to launch breakthrough technologies for burning high-sulfur coal. DynaMotive will grant ABB Canada exclusive marketing rights for the firm's BioLime(TM) process. The patented technology converts municipal solid waste, sewage sludge, and lime into an organic fuel. The by-product mixes with high-sulfur coal to improve combustion and reduce harmful stack-gas emissions. DynaMotive claims the process cuts noxious emissions by 90%, reduces coal use by 16%, and produces 96% pure gypsum at a capital investment of about one-fourth that of conventional scrubbers. Canadian electric utilities will require only minor retrofitting of installed pulverized combustors or new pressurized fluidized bed boilers to use BioLime. FAX Patrick Gaynes at (604) 222-5545.

Advanced ceramic promises better tailorability

Advanced Refractory Technologies (ART), Inc., Buffalo, NY, has introduced a series of advanced aluminum nitride (AIN) ceramics "in response to the need for better economics from this very desirable, high-performance material." Using "breakthrough" manufacturing technology, the A500 materials cost 50 to 75% less to produce than other AIN powders, according to Director of Sales David Matthew. The materials should be of interest to design engineers because of their thermal conductivity, low thermal expansion, good thermal shock resistance, electrical resistivity, and corrosion resistance properties. Potential applications include: structural ceramics, refractories, fillers for polymers, and electronic components. FAX Mary Spohn at (716) 875-0106.

New generation of DNA testing products approved

Gen Trak, a suburban Philadelphia biomedical firm, has received FDA clearance to market a "new generation" of products for research and diagnosis of infectious diseases and genetic testing. The C Quentials(TM) DR Typing Kit, an elisa-base assay, also holds potential in the forensic, paternity, and transplantation markets, according to President and CEO Michele LeGear. "The technology represents a giant step forward by providing the tools to look directly into DNA and form objective conclusions regarding many difficult-to-diagnose diseases," LeGear adds. She feels applications are nearly limitless, including DNA tests for diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, cystic fibrosis, Huntington's disease, and tuberculosis. The tests, which cost about $40, can be performed using "generic" lab instruments. A single test takes about four hours versus days for similar tests now on the market. FAX (610) 941-9498 .

Plastic optical fiber hits the marketplace

Boston Optical Fiber Inc., Marlborough, MA, has begun commercial production of plastic optical fibers. The high-bandwidth, graded-index plastic optical fiber resulted from a $6 million Advanced Research Agency project. The fiber is less expensive, easier to use, as fast as comparable glass fiber, and has better capabilities than copper fiber, according to Boston Optical President Edward Berman. It has been tested at speeds of 2.5 Gbps for 100 meters. Typical applications: office networks, multi-media services, automotive systems, and aviation operations. Berman adds that the new technology also will allow 500 cable television channels to be sent into the home over a single fiber. The company licensed the technology from a Japanese inventor, then enlisted General Motors, Honeywell, and Boeing in a consortium to develop the fiber. FAX (508) 647-4802.

Medical imaging process could reduce test costs

In another partnership, the School of Medicine of The Johns Hopkins University and the Institute of Systems Science (ISS) at the National University of Singapore will jointly develop advanced computerized imaging technology that could dramatically reduce the time for diagnosing many medical conditions. In the case of cardiac imaging alone, the new technique might replace the current series of tests that requires three days to complete and costs $5,000. If universally instituted, the single, half-hour procedure would cost about $1,000. The work also involves the creation of a new facility called the Center for Information-Enhanced Medicine. It will explore applications of sophisticated computer graphics and image processing used in conjunction with such technologies as sonography, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging. FAX (410) 955-4452 .

Supercomputer simulates cancer molecules

A new Cray T3D supercomputer at the North Carolina Supercomputing Center (NCSC), Research Triangle Park, NC, represents a sort of "mathematical microscope" that will enable scientists and engineers to create detailed computer simulations of such phenomena as a malfunctioning enzyme. The enzyme, called p21, in a mutated form seems to be involved in many cancers. The "signal transduction" protein makes up part of the cell machinery that governs basic cell processes. Working with the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and the University of California at San Francisco, researchers will develop programs on the T3D to simulate the motions of the atoms in the p21 molecule and its mutants. The simulations, which the scientists hope precisely mimic the behaviors of real molecules, will provide insights to help establish the molecular events that lead to cancer. FAX (919) 248-1455.

Robotic hand performs all the right moves

A new device that mimics a human hand can grasp and move irregular-shaped objects--from gently holding an egg to squeezing a ball to operating a wrench. Originally developed for remotely handling radioactive wastes, researchers at the Pacific Northwest Laboratory, Richland, WA, say the hand's unique features make it a good fit for manufacturing production lines or even as a prosthetic device for those who have lost a hand. The robot's gripping strength and flexible fingers offer advantages for both applications, the researchers add. And the design is simple. Air or fluid supplied to each finger through bellows or corrugated metal tubing causes them to curl and grip. The lab is looking for commercial partners to further develop and market the hand. FAX (509) 375-2242 .

Detector warns motorists of traffic backups

A new queue detector paired with a variable message sign prevents drivers from rounding a corner, being confronted with a line of brake lights, and not having enough room to stop. The device, based on a concept developed under the Strategic Highway Research Program, originally was conceived for use during flagging operations to alert flaggers when a vehicle queue was reaching a hazardous area, such as a blind curve or a dangerous hill. The detector consists of a transmitter, receiver, and electronics module. The transmitter projects a narrow infrared beam to the receiver placed directly across the roadway. The beam is broken every time a vehicle passes through. The detector disregards vehicles moving at a speed faster than the user-defined period of time. Once traffic slows to the pre-set level or stops, the device activates the variable message sign. The detector and warning device can be linked by hard wire, cellular services, or other communication devices. FAX (202) 366-7909.

Under-hood electronics aid engine performance

Installing engine electronics--which monitor and control power output, fuel economy, air-fuel mix, and exhaust emissions--under the hood rather than in the passenger compartment could enhance combustion efficiency and reduce nitrous oxide exhaust. It also would simplify cables running from the engine to the electronics under the dashboard. But electronics mounted on an engine must withstand temperatures ranging from 65C to 150C. Through a four-year cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA), Sandia National Laboratories will help General Motors design and test such an electronics package for model-year 2000 cars. The design will encompass "thick film, chip, and wire" technology, say engineers. Using a fine-meshed screen, a pattern is screenprinted onto a piece of alumina substrate, creating a conductive pattern. Silicon chips are mounted on the film substrate and wired to the film network using aluminum and gold wire. FAX (505) 844-6367 .

Wanted: emerging technology program proposals

Got a great innovation that can treat complex mixtures of hazardous organic or inorganic contaminants in sludge or solids by in-situ or surface processes? Don't have the funds to pursue the technology? Then you may want to check out this month's "Request for Preproposals" from the EPA. Some problem areas of particular concern are wood treating sites, battery waste sites, metals with organics, pesticides/insecticides, and coal gasification sites. Those preproposals that pass EPA's scrutiny could be eligible for as much as $300,000 in financial aid over a two-year period. To apply, write Randy Parker (MS 215), Site Emerging Technology Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, OH 45268, FAX (513) 569-7620.

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