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Home News Liquid metal nanoparticles could tear apart superbugs like tiny Terminators

Liquid metal nanoparticles could tear apart superbugs like tiny Terminators

Could liquid metal be the answer to the major (and potentially deadly) problem of antibiotic resistance? Researchers at Australia’s Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) university believe so — and they’ve got the magnetic nanoparticles to back up their theory.

“Currently, there is a rise of drug-resistance among bacteria,” postdoctoral fellow Dr. Vi Khanh Truong, who worked on the project, told Digital Trends. “[It’s been predicted] that current antibiotic resistance could lead to a death toll of 10 million people by 2050. Despite the current development of antibiotics, it’s not fast enough to tackle the antibiotic-resistance problem.”

According to this project, the answer could involve the use of nanosized particles of magnetic liquid metal to shred bacteria and bacterial biofilm while preserving good cells. It carries out this “shredding” by literally using sharp pieces of tiny liquid metal to destroy the bacteria in their tracks. Remember that scene from Terminator 2 where the T-1000 Terminator, which is composed of liquid metal, impales John Connor’s foster dad with a blade that extends from its arm? That’s what we’re talking about, basically. Only millions of times tinier and, you know, with a good result.

“Liquid metal has a unique property [whereby it stays] liquid at room temperature, and the droplet shape is surrounded by a nanometer-thick oxide layer,” Truong explained. “Further engineering was done with the inclusion of magnetic iron core inside the liquid metal droplets. Under [a] magnetic field, [the] magnetic-responsive liquid metal changes shape into a sharp nano object and moves toward the bacterial biofilm and bacterial cells.”

Aside from the fact that it’s fighting bacteria with a frickin’ mini-Terminator, the technology is promising for another less geeky reason. Bacteria are incredibly adaptable. Over time, they develop defenses to the chemicals that are used in antibiotics. However, they have no way of dealing with a physical attack such as this.

Right now, it’s still early stages for the research. But are the researchers are busy hypothesizing ways that this could be used in actual medical treatments. For instance, it could be used as a spray coating for implants, making them powerfully antibacterial. It could also potentially be developed into an injectable treatment to be utilized at the site of an infection.

A paper describing the work was recently published in the journal ACS Nano.


Vissles-M Monitor review

If you’ve ever used multiple screens for your work PC, you know just how beneficial it can be to your productivity. Being able to monitor emails or social media without switching between tabs is really convenient. The same goes for working on a document with source material on a second screen.While it’s not entirely uncommon to have two screens for the home or office computer, you certainly don’t see that very often with laptops. Nobody has perfected an affordable portable experience with two screens.It’s possible, of course, to plug your laptop or Chromebook into a hub/dock or to simply connect to a monitor as needed. That’s nice and all, but the screen takes up space and it’s not something you can take with you on the road.The Vissles-M ($199), is a portable 15.6-inch display that connects to your computer, laptop, and other devices. It also allows for touch, and that’s pretty damn cool, if not something you get in a traditional monitor.With two USB Type-C ports and one mini-HDMI port, it plugs into your gaming consoles (Xbox, PS4, Nintendo Switch) and Android phones. Indeed, it allows for you to put a screen where you normally wouldn’t, bringing about new levels of productivity or entertainment.There is also a 3.5mm headphone jack which comes in handy should you find yourself working in a coffee shop; built-in speakers are located at the bottom.The Vissles-M is an IPS panel with a non-glare surface and a contrast ratio of 800:1. Its resolution is 1920 x 1080, which should be on par with your standard laptop screen.Included in the box are a number of cables, which we certainly appreciate. It’s nice not having to hunt down a USB-C-to-USB-C cable or a mini-HDMI cable just to get going.The display has a magnetic protective cover that keeps the screen from getting scratches. It’s also this cover that becomes the stand to prop it up. We found it does well with varying angles for different viewing perspectives.The whole thing weighs in about 1.5-pounds so it travels very well. And because it’s ultra-thin, you can put it in the same bag as your laptop without notice.We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the overall picture, it is a monitor after all. Brightness is contrast is good, but you’ll want to plug into a power source if you can.We didn’t get above 65 percent before our unit wanted to power off. Plugging in a second USB-C cable into the wall let us get all the way up to 100. With that said, we do appreciate when we’re able to adjust the image based on environmental or situational needs.The picture is clear and has a nice contrast, and we found it has good viewing angles. There’s something in the non-glare coating that gives it a bit of a dull or flat effect. It’s not terrible, and really only makes itself obvious when contrasting to your laptop or other screens. If you’re using it for watching videos or gaming, you’ll probably be happy with the image.We paired ours up with an entry-level Chromebook for a few weeks and came away feeling like the image was nearly identical. Stick it with a Pixelbook or something premium, though, and you’ll see the difference.This isn’t a gaming monitor, to be sure. Don’t buy this for that aspect or you’ll come away less than pleased. The real demographic here is someone who might need to boost productivity from time to time. Whether that means duplicating/sharing their screen, engaging in Slack or Zoom chats while working on a document, or blowing through emails, it works well.We had mixed results when using our phones as the Vissles-M mirrors your handset but doesn’t allow for touch. It doesn’t fill the screen and the image sits vertically in the middle. The only real use case we can see here might be for sharing your screen with someone else, and even then that’s not great.We’d love to be able to open up email in a tablet-like experience. At a minimum we’d like to be able to rotate the image to better fill the screen.We’ve enjoyed having this on the standing desk as it makes working from a laptop more practical and efficient. It largely stays put around the office, but we’ve found it fun to take with us for a little bit of downtime. Getting in some Paper Mario on the Nintendo Switch is a a unique experience when you can do it tabletop at the park or on the back deck.Learn more about the Vissles-M at the Vissles website where it’s also available for purchase. Pick yours up for about $200 right now.

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