Since the pandemic, and arguably even before, journalists and politicians have been exercised by a growing shortage in semiconductors. That’s as true as anywhere in the medical device industry, with manufacturers warning that supply issues could soon impact production. But in the shadow of aggressive government plans to address the shortfall, is the scale of the global chip drought exaggerated? Andrea Valentino talks to Robert Lewis, a senior international consultant at Chance Bridge Partners, to explore the importance of chips to the global economy, what the US and other Western powers are doing to secure semiconductors in the years ahead – and whether leaving the whole system to the free market may be more sensible.
Bubbling to the surface
Researchers from the University of Sydney Nano Institute and School of Chemistry have revealed that tiny gas bubbles – nanobubbles just 100 billionths of a meter high – form on surfaces in unexpected situations, providing a new way to reduce drag in small-scale devices. Kim Thomas speaks to Professor Chiara Neto, who led the research, to find out how they made the discovery and what its implications are for the future of microfluidic devices.
Space exploration has yielded many scientific developments over the years, with healthcare one of several areas that has benefited. Both NASA and the International Space Station (ISS) Laboratory recently signalled their desire to continue this trend by seeking new proposals to demonstrate the manufacture of biomaterials in microgravity. Mae Losasso speaks to Kevin Tabury, scientific researcher at SCK CEN, Professor Lorenzo Moroni, chair of the Complex Tissue Regeneration department and vice-director of MERLN, and Professor William Wagner, director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, to better understand what microgravity can offer.
Silk to touch
Nowadays, silk has a multitude of applications beyond the luxury clothing and other decorative products for which it’s famous, and that includes applications in the medical device sector. In order to create silk-based products, however, the natural substance is increasingly being combined with man-made polymers. Jim Banks looks at the latest research and asks Juan Guan of Beihang University how silk combines with other materials to enhance its natural properties, and what potential applications this might have in the clinic.
Kill on contact
A multidisciplinary research team from universities across Europe has developed a plasma-based technology that can manipulate the make-up of materials to either prevent bacteria from sticking to them or killing it instantly on contact. Elly Earls speaks to Anton Nikiforov to find out how the system differs from existing methods to create antibacterial surfaces, and how it could be applied in healthcare settings.