Tuesday April 24, 2018
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Daylight Turns Plastic Sheet into Germ-Killing Material

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A health worker sprays a colleague with disinfectant during a training session for Congolese health workers to deal with Ebola virus in Kinshasa, Oct. 21, 2014. The process of removing the full-body protective suit is a prime opportunity for infection if the surface of the gear is contaminated. VOA
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Daylight-powered microbe-killing masks and suits may someday help protect health workers from deadly germs like Ebola, according to new research.

Scientists have developed membranes that produce a tiny bit of disinfecting hydrogen peroxide when exposed to light. They could find their way into food packaging as well, the researchers say, helping cut down on foodborne diseases.

The research is published in the journal Science Advances.

ALSO READ: Paper Bags to replace Plastic Bags in Andhra Pradesh Temples to counter Environmental Pollution

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“If there’s any live bacteria or virus on the surface, it’s still transmissible and could cause infection,” said University of California, Davis, researcher Gang Sun. Pexels

Nearly 500 health workers died during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Front-line caregivers wear full-body protective suits when they come into contact with patients with virulent diseases, but the process of removing the gear is a prime opportunity for infection if the surface is contaminated.

Sun and colleagues developed membranes that could line the outside of that protective gear. When exposed to daylight, molecules on the surface of these membranes react with oxygen in the air to produce small amounts of hydrogen peroxide — less than what you’d use to remove laundry stains, but enough to kill germs, according to Sun.

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“The approach is quite novel,” said University of Maryland food scientist Rohan Tikekar, who was not involved with this research. He says others have developed materials that produce disinfecting chemicals, but most only work under high-energy ultraviolet light. Pexels

ALSO READ: “Plastic Ocean”: The Film focusses on Plastics in the Oceans that is harming Marine Life

The new membrane also works in the dark, for at least an hour or two, thanks to chemical properties that recharge its germ-killing powers.

“That is a really significant improvement,” Tikekar added.

In addition to coating protective gear for health workers, Sun says adding a layer of this material to fresh-produce packaging could reduce contamination and prolong storage life.

Some versions of the material use natural compounds. Sun says one of the next steps is to make it edible. VOA

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Copyright 2018 NewsGram

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Artificial Eye To Help Correct Blurry Images

The researchers also demonstrated that the lens can simultaneously focus, control aberrations caused by astigmatisms, as well as perform image shift

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Artificial Eye
In a paper recently published in Optics Express, the researchers demonstrated the design and fabrication of metalenses up to centimeters or more in diameter. Pixabay

Inspired by the human eye, researchers have developed an adaptive metalens — essentially a flat, electronically controlled artificial eye — that automatically stretches to simultaneously focus and correct several factors that contribute to blurry images.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, demonstrates the feasibility of embedded optical zoom and autofocus for a wide range of applications including cell phone cameras, eyeglasses and virtual and augmented reality hardware.

“This research combines breakthroughs in artificial muscle technology with metalens technology to create a tunable metalens that can change its focus in real time, just like the human eye,” said co-author Alan She from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

ALSO READ: Eye donations increase from 2009-13, but rise in unused Eyes too, says AIIMS data

“It also shows the possibility of future optical microscopes, which operate fully electronically and can correct many aberrations simultaneously,” the researcher added.

To build the artificial eye, the researchers first needed to scale-up the metalens.

Prior metalenses were about the size of a single piece of glitter. They focus light and eliminate spherical aberrations through a dense pattern of nanostructures, each smaller than a wavelength of light.

Artificial Eye
The adaptive metalens simultaneously controls for three of the major contributors to blurry images: Focus, astigmatism and image shift. Pixabay

“Because the nanostructures are so small, the density of information in each lens is incredibly high,” said She.

To solve this problem, the researchers developed a new algorithm to shrink the file size to make the metalens compatible with the technology currently used to fabricate integrated circuits.

ALSO READ: Microsoft, LV Prasad Eye Institute launch Artificial Intelligence for Eyecare

“This research provides the possibility of unifying two industries; semiconductor manufacturing and lens-making, whereby the same technology used to make computer chips will be used to make metasurface-based optical components, such as lenses,” the researchers said.

The researchers also demonstrated that the lens can simultaneously focus, control aberrations caused by astigmatisms, as well as perform image shift. Together, the lens and muscle are only 30 microns thick. (IANS)