ISO 9001 & UKAS Registered, Electron Beam Services in the United Kingdom ISO 9001 & UKAS Registered, Electron Beam Services in the United Kingdom

12/01/21
A research team for the University of Pittsburgh have invented a new way to create programmable quantum materials by using an electron beam to “sketch” patterns of electrons together.

This enables tiny two-dimensional electronic materials to be created that can be used for quantum simulation and quantum transport.

There are many industries in which electron beam services are used, from aerospace electron beam welding to lithography, and it was the latter technology that was used by the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh.

Electron-beam lithography is where a focused beam is used to draw custom shapes onto an electron-sensitive resist film.

This is used to create exceptionally tiny structures only nanometres in size, by first exposing a resist using a programmed electron beam then immersing the resist into a solvent for developing.

If the voltage of an electron beam is lowered to just a few hundred volts and it is used not on a resist but a programmable quantum material such as lanthanum aluminate/strontium titanate (LAO/STO), quantum devices and artificial lattices can be sketched with exceptionally high precision.

The team at Pittsburgh claim that this method of creating quantum structures is 10,000 times faster than the previously used method of using an atomic force microscope, and is much easier to reprogram.

Graduate student Dengyu Yang, who developed the technique described as like using a pen to sketch onto a canvas, highlighting the ease in which complex structures can be designed and tested.
06/01/21
2020 has seen major upheavals in the healthcare sector, as routine treatments have been side-lined to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to a backlog of cases in cancer care in particular. The BMA has reported worrying statistics in patient referral for treatment, which are at half the 2019 value for the same time last year.

The bottleneck in the system means that future cancer patients will have to wait longer for treatment. However, there is some good news for clinicians and patients, with Health Tech Digital reporting a recent breakthrough in cancer care technology.

Scientists have learned from the rapid production of the COVID vaccines, which saw development timeframes reduced dramatically from a typical 10 years to just under 12 months. One response has been to speed up cancer radiation delivery by employing hypofractionation.

This is a technique where patients are given fewer radiation sessions at a higher dosage rate. Hospital visits are therefore reduced, and the treatment timeframe is shorter. The more powerful radiation doses require a higher degree of accuracy, and the NHS is employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to enable this.

AI Autocontouring technology is playing an important role in speeding up and improving the crucial task of outlining a patient’s organs that would be vulnerable to radiation treatment.

Angela Rubio, former Chief Medical Dosimetrist at the University of New Mexico Cancer Centre comments: “Prior to using AI, contouring for a head and neck cancer patient would take about two hours to complete. With autocontouring it takes about 30 minutes. That is a 75 per cent time-saving for each head and neck patient.”

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has expressed his support for AI technologies, and the NHS has announced an £140m investment programme. While this is positive news for the overstretched healthcare system, experts acknowledge that implementing the new technologies will take time and training.

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