Research leaders launch MISSION to forge new biomedical and environmental sensors
A multimillion-pound research programme led by the Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics will spearhead the development of new sensors that monitor drugs, speed up cancer detection and measure the impact of climate change.
The Mid-Infrared Silicon Photonic Sensors for Healthcare and Environmental Monitoring (MISSION) project, led by Professor Graham Reed, will combine world-leading expertise in photonics, electronics, medical and environmental sensing, and packaging to unleash the full potential of integrated photonics.
Current silicon photonics applications operate in the near-infrared wavelength range (1.2 μm - 1.6 μm). Key to this project will be the development of chip-scale sensors in the mid-infrared wavelengths (3-15μm); this is known as the "fingerprint region" as it enables sensors to spot unique identifiers in biological and chemical molecules.
The collaboration, which brings together research leaders from the Universities of Southampton, Sheffield and York, the University Hospital Southampton and the National Oceanography Centre, has been awarded a £5.8 million grant by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Professor Graham Reed, Head of the Silicon Photonics Research Group, says: "I'm delighted that the EPSRC has chosen to trust us with this important technology development work. We have put together an exceptional multidisciplinary team that I am confident can collectively make huge progress towards better lives for people around the world."
Over the coming years the team will focus on three key research demonstrators: liquid biopsy for faster cancer detection, the monitoring of therapeutic drug levels and the measuring of greenhouse gas emissions from our oceans.
The University of Southampton's Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics is home to the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), one of the world's leading institutes for photonics research.
Professor Goran Mashanovich, MISSION project manager within the ORC, says: "I am looking forward to working with world leading researchers from various fields and addressing some of the most challenging issues that our society is facing. We expect MISSION to make a big impact and pave the way for future compact sensors for a range of applications."