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Researchers develop 'liquid pistons' for cameras, medical use

Donald Melanson, @donmelanson
January 13, 2011
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It may still be years away from any sort of practical use, but a team of researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed some so-called "liquid pistons" that they say could shake up everything from cameras to medical devices. Those pistons consist of some droplets of "nanoparticle-infused ferrofluids," which are able to oscillate and precisely displace a surrounding liquid. In the case of a camera, that could be used for a liquid lens of sorts (as seen at right), and the researchers say the same technology may one day even be used for implantable eye lenses. The possibilites don't end with optical uses, though -- the researchers say that the precise ability to pump small volumes of liquid could also be used for implantable drug-delivery systems that would be able to deliver tiny doses at regular intervals. Of course, there's no indication as to when any of that might happen -- in the meantime, you can occupy yourself with the brief but oddly hypnotic video after the break.





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