One of Wired magazine’s blogs has reported that the military is investigating laser-powered prosthetic limbs for wounded soldiers. Tiny, squishy microsensors would detect nerve impulses from the patient’s body and transmit them through a network of optical fibers to and from the sensors and motors in the patient’s artificial limb. Since fibers can transmit a lot more information than wiring, they should be able to handle the complex signaling involved in simple tasks such as picking up a coffee cup.
In other news … where else but Scotland, home to the single-malt Scotch, would you find research on the spectroscopic properties of whisky? The BBC reports that researchers at St. Andrews University have developed a method for performing near-infrared Raman spectroscopy of tiny (20 microliters) samples of alcoholic beverages on a optofluidic chip. The method could lend itself to quality control — as well as rapid detection of counterfeit versions of the precious beverage. You can savor the full single-malt research paper in Optics Express.