Maastricht Economic and social Research and  training centre on Innovation and Technology

Africa bridging the digital divides: New policy note
Information and communication technology is developing rapidly in Africa – but there are worrying trends, such as a growing digital divide between men and women, and between urban and rural areas. These are the basic findings of a new policy note by Prof. Samia Nour, an affiliated researcher at UNU-MERIT.

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  • Physicists smash quantum light measurement limit
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  • Smartphone lets you see round corners by light flicker on floor
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  • Mechanical fluctuations track how bacteria respond to antibiotics
    A new piezoelectric sensor can identify the most appropriate antibiotic for an infection in less than an hour, according to physicists in the US. While conventional antimicrobial tests can take days, the device detects changes in bacteria motion upon initial exposure to antibiotics. Faster antibiotic selection could improve treatment outcomes and help tackle antimicrobial resistance.

    Antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) is used to identify the most appropriate antibiotic for a bacterial infection. Current tests are constrained by bacterial growth rates, as they examine the effect of antibiotics on the growth of bacteria colonies cultivated from patient samples. However, the two to three days this takes to produce results can cause problems.

    To accelerate AST, researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado are developing a biophysical method that can measure changes in mechanical fluctuations of bacteria.

    Their sensor is based on thin quartz crystal disc, with an electrode on each surface. One of the electrodes is used to deliver an electrical signal that is close to the disc's resonance frequency, while the other measures the piezoelectric voltage created by the resulting crystal vibrations. The technique involves coating the disk in bacteria. Fluctuations in the mechanical properties of the organisms affect the frequency of the output signal, which in turn can be used to detect changes in the bacteria population when exposed to the antibiotics.

    Physics World / Scientific Reports    September 28, 2017