Scientists Near Bionic Breakthrough

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., April 26 (UPI) — U.S. government scientists say they have created a new way of processing carbon nanotubes that might lead the way toward futuristic bionic applications.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers say while nanotubes have electrical and other properties that make them attractive for use as artificial neural bundles in prosthetic devices, the challenge has been to make bundles with enough fibers to match that of a real neuron bundle.

With current technology, the weight alone of wires required to match the density of receptors at even the fingertips would make it impossible to accommodate, the researchers said.

Now, by adapting conventional glass fiber drawing technology to process carbon nanotubes into multichannel assemblies, researchers say they believe they are on a path that could lead to a breakthrough.

“Our goal is to use our discovery to mimic nature’s design using artificial sensors to effectively restore a person’s ability to sense objects and temperatures,” said Ilia Ivanov, one of the researchers.

The study that included scientists John Simpson, Troy Hendricks, Daniel Schaeffer and Paul Menchhofer appeared in the February issue of the journal Nanotechnology.

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