Norman Edmund Inspiration Award — $5,000 in Products
Carleton University , Canada — Submitted by Sangeeta Murugkar
Dr. Murugkar’s proposed project uses Raman Micro-Spectroscopy (RMS) and imaging to differentiate between ovarian tumor cells that are inherently resistant or sensitive to chemotherapy. The optical imaging techniques developed in this project have an ability to make a real difference in reducing patient suffering and improving patient survival. “As a cancer survivor, I have seen the world from both sides of the spectrum. I am thus highly motivated to help improve cancer prognosis and reduce patient suffering,” said Dr. Murugkar. “We have recently shown that Raman micro-spectroscopy is a highly sensitive technique to discriminate between normal and malignant ovarian epithelial cells.” The vision of this project is to develop a hand-held probe for noninvasive, in vivo prospective assessment of tumor chemo-sensitivity at the time of surgery and ultimately provide the potential to increase the chance of achieving a cure for patients with ovarian cancer.
Americas — $10,000 in Products
University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA — Submitted by Edgar Spalding
For research on the genetic control of plant growth and development with high-throughput, high-resolution machine vision assays. This custom method uses IR-sensitive CCD cameras equipped with macro-zoom lenses fronted with a long-pass filter. The time-lapse sequences are analyzed with algorithms to measure the growth and shape changes - the obtained data is then used to identify the genes that control growth and development. The ability to measure very small differences in growth rate between strains of corn can help plant breeder’s select a superior variety, but the challenge is identifying the mechanisms corn plants use to germinate and become vigorous seedlings under adverse conditions of water deficit and low temperature. The key to success is creating high-resolution measurements in high-throughput, through automated machine-vision assays, so that large populations of varieties can be processed. Success with this research will revolutionize the way that plant breeders decide which combinations of varieties to hybridize to make a superior corn plant farmers will grow – capable of sustaining cold springs and dry spells.
Europe — €7,000 in Products
DZNE Munich, Germany (Deutsches Zentrum für Neurogenerative Erkrankungen) — Submitted by Severin Filser
For research into the development of a minimally invasive micro-endoscope to analyze corticostriatal network dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease. The approach combines two-photon polarization microscopy and gradient index optics. Through a polarization beam splitter cube inside the GRIN endoscope, multiple imaging planes can be recorded nearly simultaneously by rapidly modulating the laser beam’s polarization. The capabilities of the brain are based on the coherent activity of individual neurons, firing in precise spatiotemporal patterns within complex networks. Accordingly, there is a pressing need for imaging technology to simultaneously monitor the dynamics of individual cells in interconnected brain areas in behaving animals. Such technology will be crucial for studying how inter-area network communication shapes behavior and cognition and to understand how cells in distinct regions coordinate their dynamics. However, until now multi-field microscopy has only been achieved by applying very cost-intensive and complex optical approaches. This project aims to develop a simple and minimally invasive optical probe for the analysis of neuronal network dynamics at different cortical depths with single cell resolution.
Americas — $7,500 in Products
Cinvestav, Mexico — Submitted by Jairo Salazar
For the design and development of a low-cost, Hyperspectral Image Sensor (HIS) used to develop new applications for precision agriculture, recycling, remote sensing, manufacturing, and defense and health industries. A major drawback of traditional HIS is the high cost that limits the amount of users, products, and applications that are using the technology. An open project that provides all developers access to the technology would not only increase the number of HIS users, but also solve problems that generally cannot be solved with existing technology and typical computer vision techniques. For example, universities and research centers may use this prototype to support the creation and development of new algorithms, methods, and applications. While the UAV industry may use this as a tool to develop new applications on precision agriculture, pest detection and moisture measurement. With this prototype, many new applications, software, artificial intelligence algorithms, material discovering algorithms, and more could be developed and discovered.
Europe — €5,000 in Products
Imperial College London, United Kingdom — Submitted by Mads Sylvest Bergholt
For the development of the first wide field near-infrared Raman imaging probe for intraoperative margin assessment using novel optical design and engineering. Malignancies are major health burdens and leading causes of death in humans world-wide - it is estimated that 7,6 million cancer deaths occur annually. The inability to visualize the margin infiltration of cancers represents a significant challenge in many areas of oncology. The goal of this project is to push the frontier and develop the first wide field NIR Raman imaging probe for intraoperative margin assessment. A prototype is currently being developed and applied in vivo on colorectal cancer tissues. This work could have a concrete impact on surgical practice as an accurate "molecular" assessment of tumor margins, as a label-free and minimally invasive surgery and by avoiding or reducing the need for postoperative histologic examination of the margins. The key advantage of this new modality over previous technologies is that the wide field Raman imaging system has the potential to offer a superior sensitivity and specificity for intraoperative tumor margin delineation compared to existing systems without the need to administrate contrast agents.
Americas — $5,000 in Products
The University of California Davis, USA — Submitted by Oybek Kholiqov
For the development of Interferometric Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (iNIRS) for real-time quantitative monitoring of oxygen metabolism and cerebral blood flow. Physiological events that govern neurovascular coupling are associated with relative changes in optical properties of brain tissue, which can be spectroscopically interrogated to infer various chromophore concentrations. More precisely, the absorption coefficient can be measured at different wavelengths to yield hemoglobin concentration and oxygen saturation. The most important challenges in this field of diffuse optical imaging and Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) are the inability to perform baseline quantification of oxygen saturation, lack of quantitative measurements of brain metabolism, portability, and device cost. iNIRS overcomes all of the limitations of diffuse optical imaging and traditional NIRS and can potentially provide absolute quantification of baseline oxygen saturation, measurement of chromophore concentrations and blood flow, shot noise limited detection, portability, and contact-free detection at a lower cost. Success of this project would fill a gap in the field of medical imaging where there is a need for a quantitative bed-side, real-time functional brain monitoring device to monitor cerebral activation and neurovascular coupling.
Europe — €3,000 in Products
The Institute of Photonic Sciences, Spain — Submitted by Bárbara Buades Sabater
For research on ultrafast electron dynamics at a sub-femtosecond scale to understand how sensors and transistors work and how energy is stored. The size of electronic devices has decreased dramatically until reaching a limit where electronics change their behavior due to quantum effects. This research develops our understanding of electronic effects in time to overcome size limitations and to create faster electronic devices. The group is working on resolving electron dynamics in 2D materials that are used in the design of nanoscale transistors and the development of more efficient batteries and photodetectors for solar cells, as well as other applications. The only way to achieve sub-femtosecond temporal resolution is by using light pulses with a pulse duration of tens of attoseconds – the shortest light pulses ever generated on Earth. The material of study is exposed under a synchronization of a femtosecond laser pulse and an attosecond laser pulse. The synchronization happens within a nanometer beam path difference and the beams are spatially overlapped on tens of micrometers of material.