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Scientific & Technological Achievements of Iranians

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Compiled By: Firouzeh Mirrazavi
Deputy Editor of Iran Review

*Iran World's 21st Knowledge Producer

Iran has, for the first time, moved up to the 21st place in the world ranking in knowledge production, says the director of the Islamic World Science Citation Center (ISC).

“Based on the latest report on Iran's published scientific works at the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), Iranian researchers secured the 21st place in the world ranking at the end of May in terms of the total number of scientific documents published by the ISI,” said ISC Director Jafar Mehrad.

The highest scientific ranking for Iran up to now has been the 24th spot, he said, hailing efforts by Iranian researchers and scientists.

Mehrad predicted that Iran would maintain the 21st spot in the future, thanks to the upward trend of knowledge production in the country.

*Vancouver Tech Entrepreneur in 2011's Top 100 Most Creative People in Business list

Vancouver tech entrepreneur Shahrzad Rafati, the founder of BroadbandTV, is the only Iranian-Canadian who made this year's Fast Company 2011 list of the top 100 most creative people in business. Shahrzad joins household names such as Oprah Winfrey, Conan O'Brien, and key industry players such as Sebastian Thrun of Google and Andy Mooney from Disney.

In three years, Broadband TV has partnered with content providers such as the NBA to help curate and match user-created video content with online advertising opportunities.

The company is helping change the relationship between "pirates" and corporate content providers—it identifies positive and potentially revenue-generating fan-created content and helps its partners claim it, put advertising against it, and generate revenue.

"Corporations no longer look at piracy as a black and white issue," explained Shahrzad. "Instead of battling against their most enthusiastic fans, they're starting to realize there's more value in working with them. We're helping companies identify and take control of their content and generate revenue from it.

Shahrzad Rafati emigrated to Canada in 2000, studied computer science at UBC and upon graduation founded Broadband TV.

*Treating Osteoarthritis With Stem Cells

Researchers at Royan Institute have successfully treated patients with osteoarthritis by injecting mesenchymal stem cells into their knees.

Mesenchymal stem cells are multipotent stem cells that can differentiate into a variety of cell types, including osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and adipocytes (fat cells), ISNA reported.

Dr. Mohsen Emadeddin, who led the research, said the injection of mesenchymal stem cells into the knees of six patients with knee osteoarthritis showed that the treatment was effective.

He pointed out that most patients were satisfied with the significant reduction of pain during light activity and decreasing stiffness after immobilization of the knee.

Osteoarthritis is a painful degenerative disorder of the joints. It develops gradually, often starting with pain in a single joint.

The primary symptoms of pain and swelling are the results of thinning of the amount or cartilage present on the end of the bones in the joint. This cartilage damage results in pain as the banes rub together.

Stem cell treatment focuses on reducing the symptoms and chronic effects of osteoarthritis. The mechanism of action for stem cell therapy is believed to be due to stem cells’ ability to down-regulate inflammation and promote tissue healing through regeneration.

Royan Institute is a public non-governmental, non-profit organization established in 1991 by the late Dr. Saeid Kazemi Ashtiani as an infertility clinic. In 1998, the institute was approved by the Ministry of Health as a cell-based research center.

At present, the institute is a leader of stem cell research and one of the best clinics for infertility treatment. It has 46 scientific members and 186 lab technicians.

*Ultrasound Exchanger For 3-D Imaging

A high-frequency ultrasound exchanger for 3-D imaging of all parts of the body was designed by an Iranian researcher at the University of Southern California (USC).

Iran-born Hamid Reza Chabok is the lead researcher on the project. He holds a BS in mechanical engineering from Amir Kabir University of Technology (AKUT), MS in mechanical engineering from Sharif University of Technology and a PhD in industrial and systems engineering, and biomedical engineering from USC.

In a gathering held at AKUT, Chabok said that by using the ultrasound exchanger, 3-D images can be taken from all parts of the body, including eyes, heart and chest, IRNA reported.

“In the past, it was not possible to do complete and correct 3-D imaging of the embryo, but now it is possible to do 3-D imaging of the embryo for diagnosing illnesses by using this device,” he said.

He recalled that the design and manufacture of the ultrasound exchanger are currently underway by 30 PhD students and professors of USC.

“This technology can also help get rid of cancerous cells without damaging the patient’s body,” he said.

Chabok said the prevalent ultrasound exchangers typically have a power rating of 5 megahertz, but the ultrasound exchanger that he designed has a power rating of 500 megahertz.

“One of the features of my device is that it reduces the cost of 3-D imaging for patients. Furthermore, this device can do 3-D imaging of different parts of the body with high resolution and accuracy,” he said.

*Iranian et al Invent Invisibility Carpet

An Iranian post-doctoral student is on a research team, which has managed to invent a special coating, which makes objects invisible despite the presence of light.

The 33-year-old named Dr. Majid Gharghi created the 'invisibility carpet cloak' at the University of California, Berkeley in cooperation with his fellow researchers, ISNA reported.

The device enables concealment by changing the course of the light as it approaches the object's irregularities, causing it to refract from the object in the way it refracts from a flat surface.

The head researcher Prof. Xiang Zhang says, “The carpet cloak means that you conceal the object under a layer, which we call carpet, but you see the carpet like a normal mirror, as if it is flat with no bump caused by putting the object underneath.”

“This way, the observer won't recognize something is concealed underneath.”

The approach also amounts to a notable step towards application of light transfer structures in the visible spectrum as it can be used to guide the light before use by microscopes and powerful computers.

Gharghi, who works in the group together with six other researchers, has earned a doctoral degree in electronics from the University of Waterloo, Canada, where he also won a scholarship and two awards.

*Iran Scientists Build Tactile Tumor Detector Robot for Breast Cancer

Iranian scientists managed to build the first indigenous tactile tumor detector robot for breast cancer as they took another giant scientific step.

The smart robot built for the first time in Iran is used for three-dimensional detection of breast tumor.It is developed by Iranian Polytechnic Amir Kabir University.

The device designed based on syntactic touch does not impose any damage to the patient's texture, including assembly of X-ray in the body or damages due to biopsy.

The robot is able to differentiate between malignant and benign cancers with 95/5 percent.

*Iranian Among Top 10 Beijing Univ. Graduates

An Iranian graduate in acupuncture and herbal medicine at the PhD level of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine was selected as one of the top ten graduates of this university in 2011.

The graduates are selected on the basis of academic success and scientific-research activities of PhD graduates by various departments of the university. Ultimately, a vote is taken and all professors and students name the top graduates, ISNA reported.

Amir Hooman Kazemi was commended as one of the top ten graduates of the university in 2011.

In a special ceremony attended by the officials of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, university personnel, officials from the Iranian Embassy in Beijing and professors and students, Kazemi was praised for his scientific success and awarded prizes.

The Iranian student has many scientific accomplishments to his credit, such as publishing various research papers, delivering speeches in international conferences, coauthoring two books, selecting exemplary students from south and southeast Asia, and rendering therapeutic services to Chinese and foreign patients with neurological problems.

Kazemi has also introduced new therapies for treating patients suffering from brain stroke and paralysis by using acupuncture.

Beijing University of Chinese Medicine is the biggest and most reputable university in the world for acupuncture and herbal medicine. It has 20,000 students, some 1,900 of whom are from Germany, Italy, France, the US, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Australia and Canada.

Kazemi was the only foreign graduate from among the top ten graduates.

*Iranians Develop Intelligent Surgery System

An intelligent surgery system designed and built by experts at Tehran University of Medical Sciences, was unveiled at Imam Khomeini Hospital.

This system has application for ear, throat, nose and brain surgery.

In the system, which can also be referred to as a ‘navigation system’, analysis of information is carried out on images obtained from conventional methods such as CT (Computerized Tomography) Scan and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and is made available to surgeons for diagnosis and treatment through exact detection systems, Mehr News Agency reported.

The detection system can detect the position of surgical instruments in 2-D and 3-D images so that the surgeon could have clear and complete information on the position of his/her instruments in the tissue. 

This system encompasses the best available software and hardware and facilitates convenient access to information in various surgical fields. The specialized tracing camera provides a large range of visibility to the physician and can be used in any specified location in the operation theater.

The surgeon or assistants load the system with images before surgery and after than special tests are carried out. The surgeon can automatically save all the data in the database designated for the purpose and then transfer the processes to the system in the operation room from his/her laptop computer.

The surgeon can also simulate the operation process before the actual surgery and if necessary use different methods of surgery for the best and maximum results.

*Iranian Helps NASA Cool Electronics in Space

The more advanced the electronics, the more power they use. The more power they use, the hotter they get. The hotter they get, the more likely they’ll overheat. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand what typically happens next: The electronics fry.

In the world of electronics, thermal control is always one of the limiting factors--particularly in space where there is no air to help cool down electronic components, Physorg reported.

However, Jeffrey Didion, a thermal engineer at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and Dr. Jamal Seyyed-Yaqoubi, a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Ill., have collaborated to develop a technology that may overcome current limitations. They have formed technical partnerships with the US Air Force and National Renewable Energy Laboratory to address the thermal-control concerns.

Called electrohydrodynamic thermal control, the technology promises to make it easier and more efficient to remove heat from small spaces--a particular challenge for engineers building advanced space instruments and microprocessors that could fail if the heat they generate is not removed.

“Today, higher-power computer chips are available, but they generate too much heat,” said Didion, who is leading the technology-development effort also involving Matthew Showalter, associate branch chief of Goddard’s Advanced Manufacturing Branch, and Mario Martins of Edge Space Systems, an engineering company specializing in thermal systems in Glenelg, Md.

“If I can carry away more heat, engineers will be able to use higher-power components. In other words, they will be able to do more things.”

The project, a joint activity between NASA Goddard and its partners, received support from the Goddard Internal Research and Development (IRAD) program, which funds the development of promising new technologies that could advance NASA’s scientific and exploration goals.

It will be demonstrated in June on a Terrier-Improved Orion sounding rocket mission, which also is flying the Small Rocket/Spacecraft Technology (SMART) platform, a microsatellite also developed at Goddard. This new microsatellite measures about 16 inches in diameter and was specifically designed to give scientific users less expensive access to space.

“The main objective of the EHD demonstration is showing that a prototype pump can withstand the extreme launch loads as the rocket lifts off and hurtles toward space. Should it survive the vibration, the technology will have achieved a major milestone in its development,” Didion said.

It will mean that it is at or near operational status, making it a viable technology for use on spaceflight instruments.

“Any electronic device that generates a lot of heat is going to benefit from this technology,” said Ted Swanson, assistant chief for technology for Goddard’s Mechanical Systems Division. This could include everything from sensors flown in space to those used in automobiles and aircraft.

The technology promises significant advantages over more traditional cooling techniques. Unlike current technologies used today by instrument and component developers, EHD does not rely on mechanical pumps and other moving parts. Instead, it uses electric fields to pump coolant through tiny ducts inside a thermal cold plate. From there, the waste heat is dumped onto a radiator and dispersed far from heat-sensitive circuitry that must operate within certain temperature ranges.

Its architecture, therefore, is relatively straightforward. Electrodes apply the voltage that pushes the coolant through the ducts.

“The advantages are many,” Didion said. “Without mechanical parts, the system is lighter and consumes less power, roughly half a watt. But perhaps more importantly, the system can be scaled to different sizes, from larger cold plates to microscale electronic components and lab-on-a-chip devices.”

In addition to flying the technology on the sounding rocket mission, the EHD development team will fly a prototype EHD cold plate as an experiment on the International Space Station in 2013.

“This effort will demonstrate the long-term operation of an EHD thermal-control system,” Didion said.

The team is working with Goddard detector engineer Timothy Miller to develop EHD pumps in micro-channels that are etched onto silicon wafers. They plan to further experiment with other substrate and composite materials as well as special micro-fabrication techniques and coatings to create smaller, more robust EHD pumps.

These multifunctional devices could be used as stand-alone, off-the-shelf components ideal for quick-turnaround spacecraft--a capability that particularly interests the Air Force--or as units embedded within the walls of the electronic device.

The next step is placing the technology on circuit cards, with the ultimate goal of scaling it to the chip level where the ducts would be no larger than 100 microns (0.0039 inch), or about the width of a human hair.

“The point is that you want to place the thermal-control unit closer to the source of heat,” Didion said. “This would be a lot more efficient at eliminating waste heat.”

*Iranians Produce Stronger Nanofibers

Iranian researchers at Gilan University have achieved the technical know-how for manufacturing multilayered materials containing nanofibers.

“An untextured layer of nanofibers with unique properties such as high surface to volume ratio, very small pore size and high porosity is formed by means of electrofining. The main drawback, however, is its low strength such that it’s not possible to use it directly as filter or clothing,” Dr. Akbar Khodaparast Haqqi,
professor at Textile Department of Gilan University, was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.

“Our researchers decided to apply the nanofiber layer to the desired beds with a special glue through layer multiplication and produce a composite containing this effective layer. It protects the nanofiber layer against stresses or strikes,” he added.

Elaborating on the synthesis, Haqqi said, “For the construction of nanofiber layer, we first prepared a polymeric solution of polyacrylonitrile. Then, the nanofiber layer was coated on a layer of span bond by electrofining.”

These three layers were placed between two cotton cloths so that the five layers were arranged in cloth-span bond-nanofiber-span bond-cloth order. Finally, these layers underwent hot press operation at different temperatures, times and pressures to have the span bond layer melted and act as glue in joining the nanofiber layer to the cloth.

Haqqi noted that his research team “managed to reproduce images of nanofiber layers after achieving the multilayer synthesis through an innovative method”.

*Herbal Medicine For Treating Blepharitis

Researchers at Applied Research Laboratory of Medicinal Plants in Lorestan have produced herbal medicine for treating blepharitis.

Dr. Ali Salehnia, director of the laboratory, said the medicine is produced from myrtle that can be found in Zagros mountains, ISNA reported.

“The patients should clean their eyelashes with the medicine,” he said, adding that the plant has antibacterial properties.

He also said blepharitis is an ocular condition characterized by chronic inflammation of the eyelid, the severity and time course of which can vary.

The researcher pointed out that the onset can be acute, resolving without treatment within 2–4 weeks (this can be greatly reduced with lid hygiene), but more generally is a longstanding inflammation varying in severity.

Salehnia said it may be classified as seborrhoeic, staphylocccal, mixed, posterior or parasitic.

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