Two interesting breakthroughs in the laboratories point towards an increasing trend in research that is looking at eco-friendly medical treatment options for high-tech diagnosis and cures.
Researchers at IIT Madras have had a breakthrough with generating bio-compatible lasers from carrots, the first of its kind globally, they claim. They exploited a process first discovered by Sir C. V. Raman, a Nobel Laureate. Sivarama Krishnan, an associate professor and member of the research team, explained that organic bio-pigments like carotenoids found in carrots and porphyrins found in chlorophyll are interesting optically active media because of their visible light absorption properties.
Lasers or Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation are created when electrons in some special materials absorb energy and become excited. These electrons emit particles of light or photons when they return to their original state. These photons make the light emitted powerful and sharp.
Lasing materials are usually solid state and semi-conductor materials and are expensive and involve environmental issues during production and use. The breakthrough that a bio-derived material can be used as a probable lasing source is therefore good news. Carrots, in addition to having carotenoids, also have cellulose fibers, that help multiple scattering of photons. “There is now a move towards developing green, sustainable materials for various applications. The need for green photonic technologies is obvious in the current times...'' said C. Vijayan, who led the research.
In another breakthrough in optical emissions, a research team at the Kant Baltic Federal University has suggested an efficient method for obtaining a stream of low temperature plasma at atmospheric pressure. this technology, they say, could be used to treat various diseases caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria. Given the emerging problem of drug resistant microbes, there is focus on developing drug-less treatment regimes.
One such method is using low temperature plasma. Plasma is gas containing free electrons as well as negative and positive ions. In nature, plasma is produced at the time of a lightning strike, when an electric charge with high current intensity passes through the air. It can also be recreated in the laboratory.
The ions in the plasma can be used to treat diseases as they sterilise tissues and improve blood coagulation. On increasing dosage, the tumor cells are first killed, then regular cells. However, the challenge is to keep the temperature of the plasma gas below 42 degrees celsius, the temperate at which blood proteins begin coagulating. This team of researchers have had a breakthrough in obtaining plasma that hats up to less than 40 degrees celsius. “The results of our work may be used to develop low temperature plasma steam devices for medical purposes such as treating purulent-septic wounds,'' says co-author of the work, Dmitry Schitz.