Biophotonics innovators amongst Edmund Optics' 2014 Education Award winners

Optical components maker Edmund Optics (EO; Barrington, NJ) has named the recipients of its 2014 Educational Award program—an award given in recognition of outstanding undergraduate and graduate optics programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at non-profit colleges and universities worldwide. The EO Educational Award Team evaluated over 880 applications to select 45 global finalists with applications ranging from developing a compact NIR-visible dual-channel fluorescence imaging system for image-guided cancer surgery to designing solutions to assess water quality using high-resolution microscopy.
 
Over $85,000 USD in EO products will be awarded to the Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, in support of their research. All remaining finalists will receive a $500 product matching grant to assist with their research. Additionally, the Norman Edmund Inspiration Award, which is $5,000 in products, will be given to one of the global finalists on November 5, 2014.
 
In the Americas, the Gold Award of $10,000 in EO products was awarded to Gang Yao from the University of Missouri for the development of a small and portable device that screens for neurodevelopmental disorders in young children based on dynamic pupillary light reflect (PLR). This completely noninvasive test, which eliminates the use of physical restraints on children, analyzes the dynamic changes in pupil size in response to a short flash of light, reveals extremely rich neurological information about the brain, and is a critical tool for early diagnosis of autism in young children.
 
The Silver Award of $7500 in EO products went to Irving Bigio from Boston University for the development of a minimally invasive, high-resolution optical imaging technology, which does not require the use of voltage-sensitive dyes, to image neuronal activation patterns. Tracking the propagation of nerve impulses in brain tissue by imaging the changes in optical birefringence of the brain tissue is used to study and treat neuropathies such as epilepsy and stroke.
 
Colorado State University was awarded the Bronze Award of $5000 in EO products. Azer Yalin submitted the application for the development of lightweight, mid-infrared sensors to be deployed on unmanned aerial vehicles, which will efficiently locate and quantify methane leaks, in real time, from oil wells and pipelines playing a critical economic and environmental role.
 
In Europe, the Gold Award of €7000 in EO products went to Thomas Halfmann of Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany. Halfmann and his team have developed optical memories for future high-performance information technologies based on quantum mechanics. Because quantum computers operate at a huge processing speed and capacity exceeding the limits of electronic computing, they will need the ability to "catch" a light pulse, store it for memory, and release it at will. This project can completely freeze and store light impulses, including information encoded on the laser beam, for up to one minute in an optical crystal. Their goal is to provide a robust, "all-solid-state" solution to enable integration in computer architectures and operation under realistic conditions.
 
The Silver Award of €5000 in EO products was awarded to Mikkel Brydegaard and his team at Lund University in Sweden for developing laser radar for monitoring the atmospheric fauna with a particular interest in in situ investigation of the billions of insect species. The investigation includes researching the pollinator biodiversity in agriculture, flux measurements of forestry pests and disease transmitting parasites for humans and livestock. These measures and data, especially the details, will be used to identify the influence of pollution and special fertilizers on different species, and to help detect the potential of diseases transmitted by insects. Their long-term objective is the development of a portable tool to make this data accessible wherever needed.
 
Claudio Lazzari and his team at the Université François Rabelais de Tours in France captured Bronze Award of €3000 in EO products for analyzing the polarization pattern of landscapes and of objects that are attractive to tse-tse flies in Africa to develop traps that are critical in controlling the spread of disease transmitted by insects. They focused on the control of tse-tse flies transmitting sleep-sickness in Africa using polarization vision as an attraction cue. This new approach will improve capture rates and significantly contribute to the control of the transmission of a major parasitic disease.
 
In Asia, the Gold Award of $10,000 USD in EO products was awarded to Masahiro Motosuke from Tokyo University of Science for research into the advancement of micro-chips for detection of light scattering, which can contribute to the development of compact, portable flow cytometry systems designed for wide scale deployment in developing areas. Professor Motosuke's micro-chip is manufactured by a micromachining process that requires less manufacturing. This project is to develop a small, disposable chip to be used in a portable, low-cost flow cytometry system in the future. The ultimate goal of this research project is for doctors in developing countries or impoverished regions to be able to utilize portable cytometry systems for patient visits.
 
Jinmyoung So from Chonbuk National University in Korea was given the Silver Award of $5000 USD for research into building a system to trap ultrafine particles, optically (~several nanometers), and cooling the trapped particles down to ground state of light trapping, by applying a cavity cooling method into the system. This system can implement the quantum phenomena at a mesoscopic level through a highly precise operation. Such a system creates a condensed light that will be useful for use in a spectrometer with a non-classical motion state of captured particles.
 
The Bronze Award of $3000 USD in EO products, went to The Hong Kong Polytechnic University submitted by Yuen Hong Tsang. Tsang and his team developed a high-resolution fluorescence imaging system used to observe the progressive changes of cancer cells while interacting with multi-functional nanoparticles to demonstrate drug delivery mechanism. The method of simultaneously imaging and treating cancer using nano-size particles proves to be advantageous over traditional chemotherapy. The nanoparticle developed by this project, which has enhanced emission intensity with tunable emission spectrum, can be encapsulated in cancer drugs that can be served as targeted drug deliveries for therapeutic applications and simultaneously allow visual identification of the cancer cells.
 
To learn more about the Educational Award recipients and their applications, please visit www.edmundoptics.com/award.

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