Biomedical photonics focus of ESPRC award to Universities of York and St Andrews

Aug. 11, 2017
The award is for the research of resonant and shaped photonics that could revolutionize the biomedical world.

University of St Andrews (Scotland) and University of York (England) researchers were awarded around $6.5 million dollars from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to research resonant and shaped photonics that they say could revolutionize our understanding of the biomedical world.

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The study will explore new and innovative ways in which we can use light to measure the natural world. Scientists will address major global challenges in antimicrobial resistance and neurodegenerative disease, as well as break through glass ceilings in imaging, measurement and the manipulation of miniscule particles using light.

Light has been used for centuries to image the world around us and continues to provide profound insights across physics, chemistry, biology, materials science and medicine. However, what are the limits of light as a measurement tool? For example, we can use light to image single bacteria, but can we also use light to trap a single bacterium, identify the bacterial strain and assess its susceptibility to antibiotics? How can we image over multiple length scales, from single cells to multiple cellular tissue, in order to comprehensively map all of the connections in the brain? These are the questions the team of researchers from the University of St Andrews and York aim to answer.

This research builds on the team's recent advances in photonics--the science of generating, controlling and detecting light--and will exploit novel shapes of laser light and particularly the concept of resonance, the reinforcement that may occur when light interacts with a minute nanostructure. This is rather akin to the increased reverberation of a musical instrument, or pushing a child on a playground swing at just the right tempo to make the swing go higher and higher.

Professor Kishan Dholakia, principal investigator from the University of St Andrews said, "This is a strong endorsement of our team's effort over the last few years in the area of photonics and allows us to address major globally relevant challenges with a host of international partners."

Professor Thomas Krauss from the University of York said, "The team brings a unique combination of expertise in photonics that will allow us to fully understand the response of bacteria to antibiotics and to develop a rapid and accurate diagnostic technology."

The team will work closely with clinicians and a number of commercial partners to ensure the clinical impact of their work. The EPSRC Programme Grant is valued at 5.023 million pounds (80% cost) and is a collaboration between professors Kishan Dholakia, Frank Gunn-Moore and Malte Gather at the University of St Andrews and professors Thomas Krauss and Steve Johnson at the University of York.

SOURCE: University of St Andrews; https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/news/archive/2017/title,1489182,en.php

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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