Doctor Who ? For Real? Sonic Screwdriver Repairs Damaged Nerves

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Doctor Who? For Real? Sonic Screwdriver Repairs Damaged Nerves

A real-life ?sonic screwdriver has been developed that builds ?tartan-patterned? tissue to?repair damaged nerves (using acoustic forces) .

Just when everybody is so excited about the latest regeneration of the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, (if you don’t count John Hurt’s ?Warrior Doctor?), a group of researchers from the University of Glasgow, adds to the frenzy, by developing a real, working, ?sonic screwdriver?.

For those not familiar with the tool, Wikipedia describes it as ?The?sonic screwdriver?is a?fictional?tool in the?British?science fiction television?programme?Doctor Who?and its spinoffs. It is a multifunctional tool used by?The Doctor. Its most common function is that of a?lockpick, but can be used to perform other operations such as performing medical scans, remotely controlling other devices, tracking alien life and, using red setting or dampers, it can control the properties of atoms and molecules on a small scale. It can, with the exception of a deadlock seal or wooden lock, open any type of lock and operate many computers, whether their origin is alien or human.?

The sonic device, created by the University of Glasgow group, is actually called a ?Heptagon Acoustic Tweezer?, and may not make the cool sounds of the fictional sonic screwdriver. But, it is a marvel of a device that uses sonic forces.

The device uses resonance in order to control and shift matter by creating a ?standing wave? that has the ability to apply physical force. Although the science behind it is nothing new, the researchers were able to use acoustic tweezers that utilized two standing waves to have better control over the process, even when using a minimal amount of acoustic force.

With the tweezer technique, the group manipulated cells into complicated patterns that was labeled by Dr. Anne Bernassau as a ?cell tartan?.


Bernassau is one of the group’s researchers and a Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Fellow in Sensor Systems. She and the whole group published a paper that said ? We have shown that the acoustic tweezer is capable of trapping cells at predetermined positions and, by using the ability to switch phase, and operate different sets of transducers, we can generate complex cellular patterns…..Compared to other methods such as laser guided direct writing, the new device has the advantage of being small, electronically controlled, flexible in the patterning and can be easily integrated with standard microscopy equipment.?

The ?cell tartan? manipulation is envisioned as applicable in repairing damaged nerve cells, although the procedure has never been tested outside a laboratory setting. In the tests, it showed that the ?cellular matrix? that was repaired continued to grow in the created tartan pattern, even when the acoustic force was stopped.

The group is in the process of applying the tweezer technique in a three dimension scenario, which will fully enable the device to repair damaged nerve cells in human beings.

Who knows, hundreds of years from now, this ?sonic screwdriver? that started as a Nerve cell repair tool, may just live up to its iconic ?role? as the most awesome gadget ever, in the whole of time and space.


Image Source: University of Glasgow ;

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