M Squared - St Andrews Biophotonics Nexus

Lead Research Organisation: University of St Andrews
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


Biophotonics describes a combination of biology or medicine and photonics, with photonics being the science and technology of generation, manipulation, and detection of light. Global Industry Analysts (San Jose, CA) forecast biophotonics markets to exceed $99 billion by the year 2018. Specifically, biophotonics methods are projected to outperform traditional diagnostic techniques, in part driven by the worldwide need for new innovations to address challenges in for example, healthcare, neuroscience, cancer biology and disease management. Additionally, there is an increasing space in optical analysis (e.g. spectrometers, analysers) which are required for a suite of applications more broadly in laser applications both in fields such as food, drink authentication and emergent areas using quantum technology. The international growth in photonics investment needs to be mirrored by a similar expansion of corresponding UK strengths at the University-Industry interface, which is at the heart of this EPSRC Prosperity Partnership.

This grant brings together a partnership between EPSRC, The University of St Andrews and M Squared Lasers to address major research challenges that ultimately have business value and will add to quality of life, The innovative advances will include:

1) a new suite of imaging apparatus where we illuminate with a broad sheet of light rather than point by point scanning. This leads to faster image acquisition and lower sample exposure, thus leading to less "light" damage". Such imaging can lead to new insights for studies in neuroscience, diseases of the mind (dementia) and developmental biology. In turn this will shed light on numerous biological processes including the development of disease. Furthermore, the technology will be made high throughput so we can analyse multiple samples very quickly. They is relevant of the the pharmaceutical industry and drug discovery areas

2) We will look at light scattering (Raman) analysis which gives an optical readout of the chemical compassion of a sample. This will be developed in compact forms as well as with paper as medium to hold the sample. Studies will include use for anti-cancer drug monitoring, studies of infection and blood based disorders including sepsis.

3) we will use the ideas based around multiple laser interference - speckle - which is rich in information on the illuminating sources. This will herald step change for new forms of laser analysis of wavelength and even recording multiple wavelengths (spectra) from samples

4) we will look at new types of ultra compact microscopes that will be able to image below the diffraction limits, that is 100nm or smaller. these can be used in future in pathology to look at tissue biopsy (e.g. nephrotic disease) and ultimately displace other more expensive, time consuming approaches such as electron microscopy

Planned Impact

We see the following beneficiaries from our Prosperity Partnership

(i) Business: Our jointly developed Prosperity programme will have major business benefits to MSL. The joint leverage with EPSRC funds and cohesive working will lead to MSL (via M Squared Life) opening up new business opportunities in the life sciences and imaging sectors, as examples. Furthermore, the ethos of this grant means MSL can undertake work that would otherwise be too risky or ambitious and benefit from interactions with a world leading University partner. This ultimately will lead to growth at MSL. We note this is not only in the new "life sciences" markets as noted above but the studies and dissemination will lead to an increased visibility for their laser products (e.g. Solstis, Sprite, new 3P laser) in microscopy itself, that in turn will lead to new applications and ultimately increases sales for their core business area.

(ii) Academic With the added value of working with MSL through this partnership, UStA will be able to realise new research concepts and international profile in areas that would be very challenging to undertake otherwise. UStA will benefit immensely from the input of MSL resources (advanced lasers, new 3P lasers, specialist engineering advice) that will elevate their research outputs. In turn, the aim is to reinforce and enhance UStA and the UK's reputation as world leader in this area of photonics

(iii) UK economic and societal benefits: Due to the broad scope of the Prosperity Programme, it can have a range of beneficiaries in the UK and indeed worldwide. Firstly the skills pipeline in training key staff (PDRAs, students, MSL staff) in this exceptional environment will lead to a cohort of highly trained personnel who will be very well prepared to develop careers in this very important space. In terms of the UK economic benefit MSL would expect to increase their workforce and vastly expand their revenues as a consequence of this programme. In turn, this would elevate MSL to a new level on the world stage with benefits for UK visibility and standing in this area.
Description We have just completed a study showing that the use of light fields can enhance penetration for imaging. This is published in Science Advances and we will follow up with work simplifying the approach for commercialisation and multiphoton use
Exploitation Route New use of imaging for neuroscience studies, drug screening, fundamental studies of developmental biology
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

URL http://opticalmanipulationgroup.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk
Description Company M Squared have used outputs of new beam shaping work to engage and inform new potential customers in light sheet imaging
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Impact Types Economic

Title Data underpinning: Light-sheet microscopy with attenuation-compensated propagation-invariant beams 
Description The data will be available soon. In the meantime, if you would like to access the dataset, please, email research-data@st-andrews.ac.uk. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes