Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Color Changing Crystal Reveals Shock Wave Trauma

Shock wave trauma from explosions is a common battle field injury. They are becoming increasingly common with the terrorists favoring IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and suicide bombings. Such trauma is difficult to detect, especially relating to potential brain injuries. Enter the new crystal. This crystal's color changes based on its structure. When a shock wave condenses the crystal through the impact force exerted by the shock wave, its color changes. Eventually, looking at the color of the crystal will allow for a quick rough estimate of potential brain trauma suffered by the wearer.

New Scientist

"A colour-changing crystal device worn on a soldier's uniform could reveal the intensity of bomb blasts they have been exposed to, helping doctors to treat brain injuries that are too subtle to be detected by brain scans.


Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia have developed a device based on a photonic crystalline material. The crystal's colour is determined by its structure, so when a shock wave from a blast hits the crystal, changing the structure, its colour will change too.


The team's next step will be to develop a method to quantify the colour changes and translate this into a measure of neurological damage.

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