Next Generation Components and Systems for Biomedical Imaging

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Electronic and Electrical Engineering


Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a new optical bio-imaging tool which is firmly established in ophthalmology and rapidly emerging in areas such as cancer detection, wound monitoring, cardiovascular medicine and tissue engineering. The performance of OCT depends critically on the performance of the light source and the technique's penetration into the wider medical arena is being delayed by the current generation of sources. Our partnership brings together a multidisciplinary team with demonstrated expertise in the entire OCT development chain from photonic device technologists, through biomedical optics researchers, commercial OCT systems manufacturers and clinical end-users into a co-ordinated programme to address this bottleneck. We aim to develop a new generation of light sources which will achieve not only a price/performance breakthrough but also enable much greater system miniaturisation and ruggedness. The new light sources will be evaluated in an active OCT research laboratory and also offered for evaluation by our commercial partners. Next generation OCT imaging systems will be realised by developing optical components and laser systems which will redefine the state-of-the-art with regard to factors such as output power, emission band-width, tuneability of linewidth, sweep speed, and incorporate design features to simplify the OCT system and reduce cost. The research is vertically integrated from the development of new epitaxial techniques, modification of semiconductor materials, device design and fabrication technologies, development of swept laser systems, and their assessment and implementation in OCT systems studying real biological samples.

Planned Impact

This project has wide ranging impact in the generation of knowledge, economic developement, the training and development of people, and in the improvement in healthcare capabilities and provision impacting upon society. This project is aimed primarily at delivering healthcare technology at reduced cost by the development of new products and processes. Economic benefits therefore fall into short and long-term time-scales with short-term benefits arising from the increased competitiveness of UK-based industries and revenue generation from IP licences. Long-term benefits arise from the economic advantages of more cost-effective healthcare including reduced treatment costs resulting from improved screening and better treatment management. The research environment at Sheffield, vertically integrating from semiconductor epitaxy through to biomedical application is truly unique exposing the team members to a number of boundaries/interfaces between disciplines. This project therefore offers a multi-disciplinary environment for the development of project team members at all levels. Currently the applications for OCT lie primarily in the field of healthcare, with established applications in ophthalmology but with many emerging applications in surgical guidance, cancer screening, cardiology, tissue engineering etc. The penetration of OCT into these clinical areas is currently limited in large part by the relatively high cost of the technique. With the demographic shift towards an ageing population in western countries the delivery of advanced healthcare technologies at reduced cost is a major priority. Our proposal aims to produce a price/performance breakthrough that could accelerate the uptake of OCT into key areas of emerging medical practice including optical biopsy of epithelial cancers, objective assessment of wound healing and on-line monitoring of tissue engineered organs.


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Booth C (2016) The design and performance of an improved target for MICE in Journal of Instrumentation

Description We demonstrated the first imaging of skin tissues using quantum dot based light sources.

We developed a range of designs to realise broad spectral bandwidth sources to enhance image resolution.
Exploitation Route In the manufacture of new light sources for OCT imaging.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology