Technology Highlights from 2007

2007 saw a lot of medical advances and developments

2007 saw two advances which could be very significant in conquering cancer and when combined could nearly eliminate cancer. They are far more effective inexpensive detection of cancer with a lab on a chip and the transfer of 50 times higher immunity from some people with high cancer resistance to other people.

A new lab on a chip — slightly more than 1.5 square inches in area — detected circulating cancer cells in 115 of 116 blood samples from patients with metastatic cancer for a sensitivity of 99.1%, according to Daniel Haber, M.D., director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, and colleagues. The ability to monitor changes in the levels of circulating tumor cells might also reshape physicians’ view of cancer. For example, a preliminary study of patients with prostate cancer showed that a subset of people diagnosed as having localized cancer actually had circulating tumor cells. “It may be that cancer needs to be defined more molecularly than morphologically

From the Telegraph, cancer sufferers could be cured with injections of immune cells from other people within two years. Dr Zheng Cui, of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, has shown in laboratory experiments that immune cells from some people can be almost 50 times more effective in fighting cancer than in others. The treatment is called “GIFT” (Granulocyte InFusion Therapy).

Liver scarring can be stopped and reversed in mice

Researchers created human embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos or using hard-to-get eggs. The technique may prove to be easier, cheaper, and
more ethically appealing than an alternative approach that requires cloning.

New batteries using silicon nanowire, developed through research led by Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, produces 10 times the amount of electricity of existing lithium-ion, known as Li-ion, batteries. If these batteries are produced in high volume at a reasonable cost this will enable high performance all electric cars and plug in hybrid vehicles. The researchers do believe that they can commercialize quickly.

50% efficient microwave lightbulbs

Nuclear Fusion had a lot of interesting developments

A linear transformer driver allows the Z-pinch fusion device to be fied every 10 seconds. It has been reliably used 11,000 times. The Z-pinch with LTD can return 22-23% of the power put into it.

Tri-alpha energy was funded with $40 million to develop colliding beam aneutronic nuclear fusion

Robert Bussard Inertial Electrostatic fusion system was funded to develop a prototype in 2008

Using a special hollow-core photonic crystal fibre, a team at the University of Bath, UK, has opened the door to what could prove to be a new sub-branch of photonics, the science of light guidance and trapping. They are able to manipulate light 1 million times more efficiently than before. Short pulse lasers are a very interesting and emerging tool for science and technology They can destroy viruses and bacteria. They can vaporize matter without heat and be used for precise micromachining.

The japanese have made a key part of space based solar power, a 40% efficient method for converting sunlight to laser power

100 kilowatt solid state lasers are being assembled

Graphene transistors that are ten times faster than silicon are possible and the method needs to be scaled up.

Technology Review reports on graphene paper which could be mixed with polymers or metals to make materials for use in aircraft fuselages, cars, and buildings. In theory, graphene sheets could be superior to all other materials, Ruoff says, “with the possible exception of diamond”.

FPGA processing accelerators have been developed. Warp processing” gives a computer chip the ability to improve its performance over time up to 1000 times faster.

Dwave systems 16 and 28 qubit quantum computer demonstrations

UK chemists have used cuttlefish bones to template the growth of new superconductors that have almost 100 times higher current density. The weight of 1 cm**3 of superconducting cuttlebone replica is 0.06 g, compared to 6.38 g in the case of an equivalent sized monolith of pure Y123. With an overall decrease in mass of two orders in magnitude, these materials could well find application in areas where weight is of critical importance, such as space-based and mobile device technologies. The critical current density of the cuttlebone templated Y123 was measured at 1.6 MAcm−2 at 10 K and 1 T field.

Recent quantum dots are three times better than thermoelectric devices from the mid-1990’s. There are quantum wells that get 4.5ZT, which could revolutionize the efficiency of cars and power plants by enabling 50% or more of the energy lost to heat to be converted to electricity.

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