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Gizmorama - October 4, 2017

Good Morning,

A new development in terrorism prevention has been created. A laser sensor can detect explosives and dangerous gases is simply technology saving lives. Count me in!

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- New laser sensor could detect explosives, dangerous gases more quickly --*

Scientists have developed a new laser-based spectroscopic method for identifying potentially dangerous gasses. The method, which relies on the combination of two spectroscopic techniques, could be used to more quickly and accurately identify explosives and other dangerous substances.

The first technique, called multi-dimensional coherent spectroscopy, relies on short laser pulses. When bounced through a mixture of gases, scientists can measure which wavelengths are absorbed and use their observations to identify the gas molecules.

"If you have light going through the gas, and, for example, you use a prism to separate white light into colored light, in the rainbow spectrum you'd see there'd be black stripes," Steven Cundiff, a physics professor at the University of Michigan, said in a news release. "Where the black stripes are almost gives you a barcode that tells you what kind of molecule is in the sample."

Similar methods have previously been used to identify single gas samples, but a more complex method was needed to analyze gas mixtures. Until now, scientists have had to rely on supercomputers to reference catalogues of molecular data when analyzing gas mixtures.

"It's like trying to look at three people's fingerprints on top of each other. This is a stumbling block for using these methods in a real-world situation," Cundiff said. "Our method takes about 15 minutes to a few hours using traditional approaches to MDCS."

Scientists accelerated the processing time by marrying MDCS with another method called dual comb spectroscopy. Frequency combs produce a spectrum of sharp, equally spaced frequency lines. The lines work like a ruler and are used to measure the optical frequencies of atoms and molecules. A pair of combs can be combined to efficiently analyze the spectral qualities of a collection of molecules.

"This approach could allow the method of multidimensional coherent spectroscopy to escape the lab and be used for practical applications such as detecting explosives or monitoring atmospheric constituents," Cundiff said.

Cundiff and his Michigan colleague, Bachana Lomsadze, used their newly developed method to analyze a sample of rubidium atoms featuring a mix of atomic isotopes. The spectral difference between the two isotopes are too subtle to be measured using MDCS alone. But when researchers combine MDCS with a pair of frequency combs, they were able to accurately identify the different spectral lines produced but the two isotopes.

Cundiff, Lomsadze and their fellow researchers detailed their work in a new paper, published this week in the journal Science. The scientists plan to add a third laser in subsequent tests to further speed up the identification process.

*-- FDA approves glucose monitoring system that reduces need for fingerstick --*

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Wednesday approved the first continuous glucose monitor that can be used by adults without calibration via a fingerstick.

The FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System uses a small sensor wire inserted below the skin's surface that continuously monitors blood glucose levels, with users waving a mobile reader above the sensor wire to determine glucose levels and trends for patients with diabetes.

"The FDA is always interested in new technologies that can help make the care of people living with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, easier and more manageable," Donald St. Pierre, acting director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health and deputy director of new product evaluation in the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a press release.

Current CGM systems require blood glucose calibration using a fingerstick prior to using a CGM, meaning the new device could make life a little less painful for some of the 29 million people in the United States who have been diagnosed with diabetes.

The FDA analyzed data from a clinical study of adults with diabetes and compared blood glucose readings by the FreeStyle Libre Flash and readings obtained by standard laboratory methods used for analyzing blood glucose levels.

The agency has approved the device for use in adults 18 and older who have diabetes, and can be worn for up to 10 days after a 12-hour start-up period.

"This system allows people with diabetes to avoid the additional step of fingerstick calibration, which can sometimes be painful, but still provides necessary information for treating their diabetes-with a wave of the mobile reader."


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