New research uses fluorescent gels to study blast pressure on human brain


Researchers at the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) are using fluorescent gels to study blast pressure on the brain.

The fluorescent substances mimic the texture and mass of the human brain, the US army said in a statement.

The research aims to reveal how the brain is affected by conditions faced by soldiers during combat and training.

ARL nanofunctional materials senior research scientist Dr Shashi P. Karna said: "We develop materials solutions that enable us to understand the mechanisms of damage at the cellular level.

Scientists will employ nanotechnology to find out what happens to brain cells during an explosion.

"We develop materials solutions that enable us to understand the mechanisms of damage at the cellular level."

The laboratory is also creating materials that will enable researchers to observe changes that have never been recorded, the statement said.

ARL researcher Rebecca Jimenez said: "Since our nanoclusters are pressure-sensitive, when we apply pressure the fluorescence intensity will either increase or decrease depending on an increase or decrease in pressure.

"Depending on the type of metal that we use and the concentration, it can fluoresce anywhere on the visible wavelength spectrum. It can be from blue all the way to red."

The researchers plan to develop a pressure scale in order to derive useful information about the effects of blast pressure on the brain from these colours.


Image: Biologist Rebecca Jimenez infuses gel samples with fluorescent properties to discover technology solutions to protect Soldiers. Photo: courtesy of David McNally.