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The ‘PhotonicSensing’ call for proposals has been published online on 1September 2016. It invites research project proposals on photonic sensing techniques, aiming at technology readiness levels (TRL) 3 to 6, for the following application areas:
• Safety including food safety
• Civil security
• Manufacturing / production
• Environmental monitoring
• Medical applications
Project consortia should be made up of companies and research institutions from at least two of the participating countries and regions: Austria, Flanders Region (Belgium), Germany, Israel, Poland, Portugal, Turkey, Tuscany Region (Italy) and the United Kingdom. In exceptional cases, partners from additional countries or regions may join the consortia without receiving funding under the ‘PhotonicSensing’ competition.
Complete information on the competition including guidance for applicants is available from the call website at https://photonicsensing.eu/call-2016/
The camera, measuring the size of a shoebox, uses Multi Spectral Imaging, a process that captures the same image at different frequencies from the electromagnetic spectrum.
Certain combinations of multispectral images can reveal information that humans cannot see, such as invisible or poisonous gasses, or fire sources through dense fog, providing an unrivalled level of surveillance.
Current MSI cameras are unsuitable for moving objects or real-time observation because they are not ‘snapshot’ devices and use a filter wheel that needs to be rotated. They contain sensors which use technology that needs to be cooled to work, meaning the equipment is bulky.
Weighing less than 2kg, the breakthrough device deploys the latest photonic sensing technology, featuring a multi-aperture, multi sensor camera capable of capturing several wavelengths simultaneously in one place.
With the World Health Organisation estimating in 2014 that nearly 600,000 deaths are a result of air pollution in Europe, and with monitoring of civil infrastructures being an important area for video surveillance equipment and services in the future, this device looks set to play a key role in high-tech safety and security.
Coordinated in Spain, the SEERS, or ‘Snapshot spectral imager for IR surveillance’, project has received a grant of €3,750,535 from Horizon 2020 via the Photonics Public Private Partnership. Project coordinator, Anton Garcia-Diaz explains:
“The SEERS device is equipped with integrated computational imaging. It has no need for cooling and can process the images in real-time, meaning key parts of processing are embedded within the device.”
This is not just good news for coastal and traffic surveillance but also the implications for the future of safety in tunnels and the Underground tube train network are exciting.
"Accidents in tunnels, while rare, are extremely serious when they do happen. Responding quickly and in a targeted manner is vital. We expect rescue and response times will be cut significantly with the SEERS camera", Garcia-Diaz said.
Based on CMOS compatible FPA manufacturing technology means it is much cheaper than alternative IR technology. A commercial monochromatic camera working in the mid infrared range of 3-5 µm wavelengths is a bulky, cooled device that costs anything over €70,000.
“Few imaging systems exist with the capability to identify gases, but even they can cost over €100,000. The SEERS project aims to deliver MSI technology in an extended infrared domain at under €40,000 with improved persistence and gas identification capabilities”, said Garcia-Diaz.
Download the full press release.
The program, which will run for three and a half years, has joined a research group consisting of 13 companies and six research organizations. The majority of them are also members of the Slovenian national platform for photonics – Fotonika21.
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Matjaž Humar, a postdoctoral research assistant at the Condensed Matter Physics department, was awarded a special EUR 311,202 grant by the institute's director for a three-year period.
The goal is to launch a world-leading bio-integrated photonics lab, Humar told the STA news service. He explained that bio-integrated photonics was a new field with countless opportunities to explore.
To study living organisms, bio-integrated photonics traditionally relies on artificial light sources and optical components made from non-biocompatible materials.
Humar wants to take it one step further and develop optical material that is biocompatible and can be ingested or implanted in the human body. For example, biodegradable photonics would allow doctors to take higher resolution images deeper inside the body than ever before.
Last year, Humar and his colleague Seok-Hyun Yun of the Harvard Medical School succeeded in implanting and operating a laser inside a single living human cell for the first time. They also proved that fat cells already contain lasers that only need to be activated.
Humar presented his achievement at the 66th Nobel Laureate Meeting 2016 in Lindau, Germany. About 400 young scientists from 80 countries were invited, with 29 Nobel laureates in attendance.
His next goal is to build lasers entirely made of living cells and organisms that are biocompatible and biodegradable in the human body. At the moment he is working on a project that aims to build laser tattoos.
Matjaž Humar graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Ljubljana, and has a PhD in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology from the Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School.
He has a postdoctoral position at the Harvard Medical School's Wellman Center for Photomedicine and is a Marie Curie fellow.
Published in STAscience, Ljubljana, 12 August
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About the size of a small book, the microscope is part of a new platform combining photonics technology, microfluidics and molecular biology, which has the potential to simultaneously detect more than one million biomarkers, the tell-tale signs of diseases such as Sepsis, a potentially fatal whole-body inflammatory reaction caused by severe infection, which kills more than 20,000 people per day worldwide.
Current techniques can take as long as one day to perform a similar test. This new method can produce a result in just 30 minutes.
By sending polarised beams of light through birefringent crystals and a cartridge containing a blood drop and an array of receptors, the system is able to detect the interaction of light with the bacteria or proteins captured by the receptors. The intensity of the transmission image is then analysed to provide the physician with an accurate detection of ‘what’, and ‘how much’ bacteria or proteins are present.
With bacteria currently needing to reproduce in large quantities before an accurate diagnosis can be made, this can mean a patient waiting over 24 hours before all the information is at hand to decide a course of treatment. This new device produces sample-to-result processing times up to 50 times quicker than current methods and with a condition like Sepsis, where time is of the essence, this looks set to usher in a new era of medical diagnosis.
Developed by the, ‘Scalable point-of-care and label free microarray platform for rapid detection of Sepsis’, or ‘RAIS’, the project is coordinated by ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona, Spain and is yet another success story for the Photonics Public Private Partnership. Dr Josselin Pello, senior researcher on the project explains,
“Sepsis is one of the top 10 causes of death in the world. It can strike regardless of age, gender or fitness. Doctors need a quick, reliable way of detecting Sepsis and what stage it has reached.”
“Current methods exist, but they are too slow: they can only look at a couple of parameters at a time and they will not tell the physician what type of bacteria it is that is causing Sepsis. A doctor may not therefore prescribe the correct treatment in time.”
“RAIS can simultaneously examine many biomarkers, such as micro-ribonucleic acids or interleukins, and will let you know the bacteria source much earlier, allowing you to choose the correct treatment sooner”, said Dr Pello.
The financial implications of RAIS are very exciting. According to Dr Cindy Rechner, Clinical Trial Coordinator at Thermo Fisher Scientific,
“Not only can the RAIS device save lives through faster diagnosis of Sepsis but at under €50 per patient for a test it could remarkably reduce the estimated 10 billion Euros spend each year in Europe and the USA on hospital stays and unnecessary drugs.
With the portable, point-of-care device being easy to use, complete with integrated software, it is thought that not only could this be used in remote areas by junior physicians, but self-diagnosis could be commonplace in the future.
“Although we are a long way off this, a self-diagnosis kit would certainly help with conditions like meningitis where an early diagnosis could be the difference between life and death”, said Dr Pello.
You can download the full press release.
- Almae technologies is commercializing an innovative photonic technology developed by teams from Nokia Bell Labs, Thales and the CEA at III-V Lab to address telecom and data storage center demands for very high speed optical data transmission.
- The startup has the industrial infrastructure to rapidly bring to market advanced components required to keep pace with the rapid growth in Internet data volumes.
Marcoussis, 29 June 2016 – With the regrouping of teams from III-V Lab (a company under the French “Economic Interest Group” scheme, consisting of researchers from Nokia Bell Labs, Thales and CEA/LETI), Almae technologies is taking over III-V Lab’s facilities at Marcoussis. Spun-off by III-V Lab in October 2015, Almae technologies will use the epitaxy reactors and electronic nanolithography equipment validated by III-V Lab to immediately ready for production III-V semiconductor wafers for the telecommunications market.
With over 2000 m² of clean rooms, Almae technologies will have an annual full production capacity of several thousand semiconductor wafers incorporating new-generation laser components that support very high speed access over optical fiber.
Along with the acquisition of this critical equipment, Almae technologies will benefit from a technology transfer from III-V Lab, with operational support from the laboratory's R&D teams in laser design, fabrication and characterization. This technology transfer will enable the start-up to rapidly achieve industrial scale and to develop products that meet the growing world market demand for advanced semiconductor lasers based on III-V materials.
“We are delighted to have made this deal with Almae technologies, which brings to the market more than 10 years of research work on access photonics, strengthens our position as a technology leader in the field of laser applications for telecoms and demonstrates the value of our model of an innovative, open industrial laboratory," commentst François LUC, President of III-V Lab.
A growth market serving the needs of tomorrow’s telecoms
The rapid growth worldwide in the number of Internet users, connected objects and data traffic have led to massive use of fiber optics and hence of semiconductor lasers, which are essential for encoding the signal onto an optical carrier for transmission through the fiber.
The market has a strong growth outlook, in particular in Asia and the United States. The optical communications transmitter segment has been assessed at 4 billion dollars and is running at an annual growth rate of 12%.
A technological breakthrough in photonic integration moves out of the laboratory
Almae technologies designs and produces Indium Phosphide (InP) wafers to implement photonic circuits integrating semiconductor lasers, made possible by licensing a portfolio of patents from Nokia. This involves a technology for growing materials with atomic-scale control developed in III-V Lab: this "buried stripe" laser technology is at the leading edge of global innovation in photonics. It consists of covering the smiconductor strip constituting the laser with an electrical insulator material with sub-micron precision, enabling good thermal exchange and optimum optical guidance of the beam. This technique enhances the implementation, stability and performance of integrated lasers: a range of products operating at upt to25 Gbit/s is in the process of development.
“We are very proud that the photonic technologies developed by Nokia Bell Labs and III-V Lab will now be applied by Almae technologies in the creation of semiconductor wafers for telocommunications industry. Many of these optical technologies are at the core of next generation networks, including 5G. they will provide the greater speed and processing required to meet the needs of a fully mobile and connected society while consuming less power. Almae technologies will also provide a reliable industrial supply chain for our innovations going forward! says Jean-Luc Beylant, President of Nokia Bell Labs France.
“We welcome the agreement with III-V Lab: it will enable Almae technologies to develop its epitaxial wafer manufacturing business on an industrial scale, along with high added value services in collaboration withInPACT, a III-V Lab partner for 10 years, while positioning Almae as a major player in the field of photonic integrated circuits. This new R&D and industrial production activity will contribute to the dynamism of the ecosystem of the Saclay plateau technology region by creating value and highly-skilled jobs in the growing sector of photonics applied to telecommunications," says Jean-Louis Gentner, founder and CEO of Almae technologies.
You can download the full press release
The device can scan from a distance of up to 30 metres and is capable of instantaneous, real-time, unambiguous detection. Harnessing new photonics technology, the device uses spectroscopic sensors, that read the unique frequencies, or ‘signatures’ given off when liquids or gasses interact with light.
With real-time scanning delivering a realistic detection rate of one every few seconds, and therefore a rate of 1200 per hour, the new device can deliver over 6 times more capability than state of the art trace portal scanners that detect bombs and illegal drugs at a rate of 180 of passengers per hour.
While the device has many other capabilities, such as the early detection of diseases, scanning for bacteria in fridges or even detecting the presence of alcohol from afar, its stand-off detection capabilities mean the small device could be installed on the front of airports, scanning crowds in real-time for suspicious material, like explosives or illegal drugs, before they even entered the building.
The MIRPHAB, or ‘Mid-Infrared photonics devices fabrication for chemical sensing and spectroscopic applications’ project, is being coordinated by CEA-Leti, France, and has received funding of €13,013,967.39 from the European Commission's Photonics Public Private Partnership under the Horizon 2020 program, and €2,005,280.00 from the Swiss Government.
Project coordinator Sergio Nicoletti says "we are making the next generation of sensors that are compact, low cost and low on power consumption and capable real-time detection where the speed and sensibility is unrivaled. We want to shrink current technology down to the size of a mobile phone".
Jose Pozo, Director of Technology and Innovation, at the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC) says, "Spectroscopic sensing in the MIR wavelength band (3 ÷ 12 μm) is a powerful analytical tool to address societal challenges like climate change or monitoring emission controls."
"In this wavelength band, the so-called "fingerprint region", chemicals exhibit intense adsorption features allowing superior detection capabilities and unambiguous identification", said Pozo.
With links already established in sectors such as health, automotive, medical and domestic, Pozo explains that MIRPPHAB will turn these achievements into business and commercial opportunities for both SMEs and large industrial groups.
"Within MIRPHAB, we have set the ambitious goal of creating a commercially viable pilot line for the fabrication of Mid-IR sensors that is ready for business by 2020. This result will be achieved by setting up and operating a fabrication platform, offering open access for fast Mid-IR device prototyping to European industry.
"Any European company with a business on analytical sensing can apply. They will receive matching funding to cover the prototyping costs of the MID-IR sensing system of up to €230K. Such a system will be integrated from mature components from our extended library, including laser sources, detectors and micro-optics. Furthermore, the related services to prototyping also include micro assembly and standard reliability studies", said Pozo.
You can download the full press release.
In a recent work published in Nature Communications, the research group led by ICREA Professor at ICFO Frank Koppens demonstrate a novel way to detect low-energy photons using vertical heterostructures made by stacking graphene and other 2D semiconducting materials. By studying the photoresponse of these atomically thin sandwiches, the researchers have shown that it is possible to generate a current by heating electrons in graphene with infrared light and extracting the hottest electrons over a vertical energy barrier.
This ingenious mechanism, named photo-thermionic effect, takes advantage of the unique optical properties of graphene such as its broadband absorption, ultrafast response and gate-tunability. Moreover, owing to their vertical geometry, devices relying on this effect make use of the entire surface of graphene and can be potentially scaled up and integrated with flexible or rigid platforms.
More generally, this study reveals once again the amazing properties of these man-made heterostructures. According to Prof. Frank Koppens "this is just the tip of the iceberg, these 2D sandwiches still have a lot to reveal". ICFO researcher Mathieu Massicotte, first author of this study, emphasizes the new possibilities opened up by these new materials: "Everyone knows it is possible to detect light with graphene using in-plane geometries, but what about the out-of-plane direction? To answer, you need to think outside the 2D box!"
The results obtained from this study have shown that heterostructures made of 2D materials and graphene can be used to detect low-energy photons which could lead to new, fast and efficient optoelectronic applications, such as high-speed integrated communication systems and infrared energy harvesting. In addition, it demonstrates the compatibility of 2D materials with the digital chips currently utilized in cameras, paving the way for low cost infrared spectrometers and imaging systems.
ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences was created in 2002 by the government of Catalonia and the Technical University of Catalonia as a centre of research excellence devoted to the science and technologies of light with a triple mission: to conduct frontier research, train the next generation of scientists, and provide knowledge and technology transfer. Today, it is one of the top research centres worldwide in its category as measured by international rankings.
Research at ICFO targets the forefront of science and technology based on light with programs directed at applications in Health, Renewable Energies, Information Technologies, Security and Industrial processes, among others. The institute hosts 300 professionals based in a dedicated building situated in the Mediterranean Technology Park in the metropolitan area of Barcelona.
ICFO participates in a large number of projects and international networks of excellence and is host to the NEST program which is financed by Fundación Privada Cellex Barcelona. Ground-breaking research in graphene is being carried out at ICFO and through key collaborative research partnerships such as the FET Graphene Flagship. ICREA Professor at ICFO and NEST Fellow Frank Koppens is the leader of the Optoelectonics work package within the Flagship program.
Over 400 participants attended the 6th annual Laser and Health Academy (LA&HA®) Symposium, which took place on May 20th at the resort of Lake Bled in Slovenia's Alpine region.
During the symposium 46 experts from around the world gathered to present, share and discuss experiences in the field of medical laser treatments. The lecture topics were grouped into parallel sessions according to LA&HA's three main research categories:
• Lasers in Aesthetics, Dermatology & Surgery
• Lasers in Dentistry
• Lasers in Gynecology
Many of the topics presented at this year’s Symposium discussed the unique combination of Erbium-YAG laser and Neodym-YAG laser treatment modalities, which enables highly effective yet minimally invasive aesthetic treatments such as skin tightening and body sculpting, as well as applications in periodontology and dental surgery. In the gynecological program, the ‘magical’ minimally invasive, non-ablative Erbium-YAG laser treatment modality known as SMOOTH® mode was discussed in applications from stress urinary incontinence and atrophy treatment to laser vaginal rejuvenation. The symposium also included demonstrations of some of the industry's latest medical laser equipment.
During and after the Symposium there were plenty of opportunities for networking and socializing with lecturers and fellow participants. The Symposium was jointly organized by the Horizon2020 Photonics Public Private Partnership and the Laser and Health Academy.
Taking their ideas from defence mechanisms found in plants such as the Lotus leaf, the ‘High Throughput Laser Texturing of Self-Cleaning and Antibacterial Surfaces’, or ‘TresClean’ project, has made a breakthrough that will enable the production of self-cleaning sheet metal on an industrial scale for the first time.
This new technique will initially be used to create antibacterial surfaces for use in the food production industry – dramatically increasing productivity and reducing costs in factories which process biological food products such as milk, tomato sauce, and yoghurt.
TresClean has used high-power laser cutting devices to create a specifically tailored, rough micro-topography on sheet metal that mimics the surface of the Lotus leaf, causing liquids to ‘bounce off’. This roughened surface creates miniature pockets of air that minimises the contact area between the surface and a liquid.
Professor Luca Romoli, Project Coordinator of TresClean explains: “In the same way that Lotus leaves keep themselves clean, without the need for cleaning products or chemicals, their jagged, rough surfaces enable water to stay as spherical droplets by preventing ‘spreading’.”
“Bacteria do not get a chance to stick because the contact with the metal surface and the liquid is reduced by over 80%. We are looking at an anti-bacterial metal”.
While this replicating approach may currently exist for specific and expensive plastic components, it is a first for self-cleaning metal.
Metal surfaces are textured using innovative industrial photonics devices: high-average power ultrashort-pulsed lasers are used in combination with high-performance scanning heads by utilising an innovative beam delivery method enabling movements of up to 200 m/s.
TresClean can achieve this surface texturation quickly by cutting areas of 500 square cm in less than 30 minutes. In early 2015 production methods could make laser-etched metal at a rate of 1 square inch in 1 hour, whereas TresClean can produce 1000 square cm in the same period of time, making this technology 156 times quicker than before.
Romoli estimates that TresClean could have its products ready within 2 years.
Initially aiming its product at machine parts for the food industry TresClean hopes to make a significant impact on productivity: “Vats in milk factories need to be cleaned every 6-8 hours to avoid the exponential growth of bacteria. This hinders usage and therefore affects output” Romoli said.
“By saving hours per day in cleaning, it will yield an efficiency improvement stemming from fewer sterilization cycles and less cleaning time within production as a whole. This will also reduce energy consumption as a result of fewer cleaning phases making food production quicker, safer and more profitable”.
Professor Romoli sees the long-term possibilities and implications for other sectors: “It is possible that any use of metal that needs to avoid the formation of bacteria will benefit from the TresClean product, such as medical cutting tools, sterile surfaces, dishwashers, or even saucepans”.
Coordinated by the UNIVERSITÁ DEGLI STUDI DI PARMA, the consortium includes members from Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the UK and has received a grant of EUR 3,363,091.25 from the Photonics Public Private Partnership under the H2020 Industrial Leadership funding calls.
You can download the full press release.