Dr. Bret Flanders

Department: Physics

My team uses nano-fiber-based tools we’ve been developing to work out cell-level surgical procedures. We can grow 200 nanometer diameter (smaller diameter than an individual cell) nano-fibers of user-chosen length and stiffness from the sharpened tips of 2 mm diameter tungsten wire. These tools, which we call nano-scalpels or nano-curettes, can be mounted and manipulated in a laboratory in order to probe, incise, excise and transplant tissue on the few-cell level (~10 microns and below). We envision them being the basis for a set of surgeon’s tools that will enable excisions, grafts, and transplants to be performed at the few-to-single cellular level. Ultimately, this nano-surgical methodology could permit smaller tumors and even individual cells to be removed, allowing for earlier and more complete curettage of cancerous tissue (removal of sub-millimeter-sized melanoma in skin, for example).