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Super-fine Sound Beam Could One Day Be an Invisible Scalpel

Published: December 20, 2012.
By University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR—A carbon-nanotube-coated lens that converts light to sound can focus high-pressure sound waves to finer points than ever before. Doctors routinely use focused sound waves to blast apart kidney stones and prostate tumors, for example. The tools work primarily by focusing sound waves tightly enough to generate heat, says Jay Guo, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, mechanical engineering, and macromolecular science and engineering. "

To achieve this superfine beam, Guo's team took an optoacoustic approach that converts light from a pulsed laser to high-amplitude sound waves through a specially designed lens.

The U-M researchers' system is unique because it performs three functions: it converts the light to sound, focuses it to a tiny spot and amplifies the sound waves.

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