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Collaboration finds its scope

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Doug FarmerSometimes when many groups agree to look at a problem through the same lens, it can make all the difference. So when researchers in EU’s ChipScope project worked together to develop an innovative optical microscope, they produced exciting results.

Until the last decade, light microscopes were held to the Abbe limit, meaning structural features smaller than 200 nm could not be resolved by them. But in the planned ChipScope design, a specimen is placed above a light source consisting of numerous LEDs, and the light propagation is measured by single-photon avalanche detectors. The sample is moved by nanopositioners and microfluidics. Superresolution then becomes more available than ever before.

Angel Dieguez Barrientos, an associate professor in the Department of Electronic and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Barcelona, said the goal of the project is to make such technology portable and less expensive, without the need for lenses or a complex setup.

The Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS), the European Commission’s repository for results of projects funded under EU frameworks, recently reported this progress. The project includes the expertise of research institutes and private companies from Spain, Germany, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland.

Barrientos said that by the end of the year, when the current timeline runs out, project leaders hope to integrate the last LEDs and build various sizes of the arrays for different microscopes. While the initial interest of the team was studying pulmonary disease, he said they will be focusing now on measuring simple cells and two electron-beam lithography patterns. This technology could very well appear in a laboratory near you.

Readers of this edition of EuroPhotonics will see updates on other research as well. Harald Vinçon, Sonja Kauer, and Maximilian Heym of SCANLAB discuss how advancements in laser scanning systems have allowed for breakthroughs in materials processing and fabrication. Learn more here.

Susanne Pahlow, Karina Weber, and Jürgen Popp of the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology explore Raman spectroscopy as a superb technology for the identification of the chemical makeup of various samples. This application holds promise for the construction of point-of-care systems that identify cells and bacteria, and for furthering understanding of antibiotic resistance. Read more here.

Finally, in the “EPIC Insights” column, Elena Beletkaia and Jose Pozo write that the versatility of modern fiber optic sensing systems opens doors for applications in industries including oil and gas, automotive, aerospace, structural health monitoring, military, and biomedical. Learn more from EPIC here.

Enjoy the issue!

Autumn 2020

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