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Top Story

New quantum material could warn of neurological disease

What if the brain could detect its own disease? Researchers have been trying to create a material that "thinks" like the brain does, which would be more sensitive to early signs of neurological diseases such as Parkinson's. Thinking is a long way off, but National Science Foundation-funded researchers have engineered a new material that can at least "listen." The lingua franca is ionic currents that help the brain perform a particular reaction needed for something as basic as sending a signal to breathe. Detecting ions means also detecting the concentration of a molecule, which serves as an indicator of the brain's health. In a new study, researchers demonstrate the ability of a quantum material to automatically receive hydrogen when placed beneath an animal model's brain slice. Quantum means that the material has electronic properties that both can't be explained by classical physics, and that give it a unique edge over other materials used in electronics such as silicon. The edge, in this case, is strong, "correlated" electrons that make the material extra sensitive and extra tunable. In the long run, this material might even bring the ability to "download" your brain, the researchers say.

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