Ultra-tiny "nano-ear" can hear bacteria and viruses
By Itza Montforte Noguez, Web writer
A Tiny piece of gold suspended in a laser beam is the component of the world's smallest ear. It can hear sounds a million times fainter than any human ear can contituting a powerful acoustic microscope.
This is the work of Jochen Friedmann and Andrey Lutich of Munich's Ludwig-Maximilians University which is a progression from the so-called "optical tweezer" developed in 1986. This optical tweezer uses laser beams to trap microscopic particle inside an electric field suspending the particle so that it no longer moves on its own. The only way to move it is that something nearby disturbs it.
The nano-ear detects that something as vibrations of sound waves that the human ear con't possibly detect. It can hear sonds as low as -60 decibels.
In order to test this nano-ear, a tiny piece of gold was suspended inside the beam and heated other particles arround so the sound vibrations could be detected. The movement of the particle inside the beam revealed not just the exact decibel levels created by the heated particle but the direction they came from.
If the progress of this equipment continious like this, the nano-ear would be hugely useful in bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms as the detection of the sound they make could impove the data on what distinguishes different strains. The nano-ear might be able to detect the presence of this microorganisms in extreme conditions.
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