Rescue Act Funds AIM Photonics' Production of Lab-on-Chip Tests

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The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has earmarked more than $10 million for photonic technologies addressing the ongoing pandemic. More than $5 million — split across multiple projects — will support AIM Photonics’ development of disposable integrated photonics-based tests.

Close to $5 million is designated for the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute (ARM), which will enable small- and medium-size businesses to evaluate the integration of robotics and automation into manufacturing process to support coronavirus response.
An early iteration of the sensors being used in the lab on a chip devices developed in the Miller Lab. Courtesy of the Miller Lab, University of Rochester.
An early iteration of the sensors being used in lab-on-a-chip devices currently being developed in the Miller Lab at the University of Rochester. The work is one of two initiatives that is poised to benefit from recent funding earmarked for AIM Photonics. Courtesy of the Miller Lab, University of Rochester.

A first award will support AIM Photonics’ production of inexpensive, disposable point-of-care sensors using integrated photonics to test for coronavirus and emerging viruses. The sensors will reduce the need for expensive equipment, such as the technology used in polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. The tests would additionally eliminate the wait times associated with PCR tests. AIM Photonics will work with eight partner organizations on the project.

A second award of just under $300,000 will support AIM in its development of a proof-of-concept, disposable, lab-on-a-chip solution to COVID-19 testing using silicon photonics. The technology does not require costly reagents or complex, large, power-consuming hardware, while still offering low temperature sensitivity.

Though not mentioned by name in the funding announcement, AIM is currently collaborating with Benjamin Miller’s research group at the University of Rochester Medical Center to develop a rapid test for COVID-19 immunity using a disposable photonic sensor that can detect exposure to multiple viruses using a single drop of blood.

Per the NIST funding announcement, AIM will collaborate with three organizations on the second initiative.

ARM will use the funding to create the Robotics and Automation Decision Framework for Agility and Resilience (RADAR). The framework will enable small- and medium-size manufacturers to gauge the value of incorporating automated solutions designed to address coronavirus safety concerns.

The three awards are part of a $54 million funding initiative benefitting 13 high-impact projects for research, development, and testbeds for pandemic response. The funding, provided by the American Rescue Act, will support projects at eight manufacturing innovation institutes in the Manufacturing USA network, working with more 80 partners including leading research universities, nonprofits, and small and large manufacturers. Each institute in the Manufacturing USA network is a public-private partnership focused on an advanced manufacturing specialty such as additive manufacturing, advanced chip manufacturing, or robotics. The institutes collaborate with academic and private sector manufacturing organizations on applied research and development projects and advanced manufacturing skills training. 

Published: March 2022
BusinessOpticsBiophotonicscoronavirusCOVID-19pandemicfundingRescue ActNISTAIM PhotonicsAdvanced Robotics for Manufacturing InstituteroboticsautomationautomatedmanufacturingAmericasIndustry NewsBioScan

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