SPAD-based detectors and imagers for biophotonics and other sensing applications
Bioinspired aquatic pulsed-jetting is a potentially groundbreaking mode of propulsion for underwater vehicles. While the benefits of this mode of locomotion are apparent in terms of vehicle maneuverability, pulsed-jetting has long been considered lacking in terms of efficiency, thus casting doubt on its actual employability in real world applications. Taking inspiration from the biomechanics of jellyfish, we designed a flexible self-propelled robot that can exploit resonance to drastically increase its propulsive efficiency. Experiments confirm that resonance is key to augmenting swimming speed and efficiency, showing for the first time a self-propelled vehicle that matches the efficiency of its biological counterpart. This has further implications in the study of jellyfish by confirming that their unsurpassed swimming efficiency is linked to the elastic nature of their tissues.
Francesco Giorgio-Serchi is a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. His work encompasses the design and control of underwater vehicles for enhanced propulsive performances and for operation in extreme weather conditions. Previously he was a Research Fellow at the University of Southampton, within the Fluid-Structure-Interaction group, where he studied the role of shape-variations of aquatic systems for the enhancement of maneuverability and propulsive efficiency. Prior to that he was at the Centre for Sea Technologies and Marine Robotics of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy, where he worked on the design of soft-bodied, bioinspired, aquatic vehicles. Dr. Giorgio-Serchi holds an MSc from the University of Pisa, Italy, in Marine Technologies and a PhD in Computational Fluid Dynamics from the Centre for CFD of the University of Leeds, UK.
Dr Aaron Lau
Bioinspired Molecular Nanotechnology – using Sequence Specific Peptoids for Self-Assembly and Biomedical Applications
Biological function is most often controlled by “sequence-specific” polymers. For example, 20-odd amino acid monomers join into linear chains with specific sequences (i.e. peptides) that adopt specific shapes (i.e. proteins) to exhibit diverse functionalities. The Lau group focuses on the experimental development of synthetic peptide mimics called “peptoids” that possess simpler design rules than peptides but exhibit similarly complex functionalities. This talk highlights our recent efforts in exploring and designing peptoids that can self-assemble into nanostructures and/or exhibit bioactivity. Examples illustrating the connections between peptoid sequence characteristics and antimicrobial activity, as well as between the mechanical behaviour of self-assembled peptoid nanosheets and their influence on stem cell differentiation, will be discussed.
Aaron leads the Bioinspired Molecular Interfaces group at the University of Strathclyde. He is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry and a founding member of the university’s Bionanotechnology initiative. He obtained his ScB and ScM in Materials Engineering at Brown University and his PhD in Chemistry at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research. He is interested in developing self-assemblies and synthetic surfaces that mimic the nanoscale organization and functionalities observed in natural molecular interfaces. This “biointerfacial” research is driven by both fundamental scientific inquiry and potential applications. The impact of Aaron’s research is in two main areas: i) sequence-specific “peptoids” as novel nanoassemblies, antibacterial surfaces, and biomaterials, and ii) “polyphenol coatings” for surface modification of synthetic materials, including cellulose, for enzyme biocatalysis and biomedical and environmental sensing. His awards include the US NIH National Research Service Award (2011), RSC mobility fellowship (2014), Scottish Crucible (2015), and the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Young Investigator award (2016).
Dr Stefano Mintchev
Bioinspired design strategies for morpho-functional drones
We live in the age of drones and our expectations from these machines are rising. How can drones fly longer, withstand harsh atmospheric conditions, or access and explore confined spaces? Birds and insects face these same challenges on a daily basis, thus providing a valuable source of inspiration for the development of more versatile and adaptable drones. In this talk I will present examples of bioinspired design and manufacturing approaches for the development of morpho-functional drones. These machines use adaptive morphologies, a combination of rigid and soft materials and multimodal mobility to address the aforementioned challenges.
Stefano Mintchev is Assistant Professor of Environmental Robotics at ETH Zurich. He received his Ph.D. degree in biorobotics in 2014 at the BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy. During his Ph.D. he investigated actuation and perception strategies for bioinspired underwater robots. During his postdoctoral research at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL, he worked on new design principles, soft materials and manufacturing solutions for multi-modal drones. In 2018, he co-founded the company Foldaway Haptics, where he acted as CTO until April 2020, when he joined ETH Zurich with a SNSF Eccellenza Professorial Fellowship. He is currently developing robotic solutions for today’s environmental challenges.
Dr Nico Bruns
Bio-inspired biosensing of malaria biomarkers amplified by polymerization reactions
Malaria remains one of the globally most socioeconomic devastating diseases. Similar to the current Covid-19 pandemic, rapid diagnostic tests are essential tools for the control and elimination of the disease. However, current diagnostic methods are either too expensive, laborious or not sensitive enough to detect asymptomatic carriers that continue to spread the diseases via mosquito transfection. We have developed a highly sensitive malaria diagnostic assay that is ideally suited to identify low levels of parasitemia while being based on very simple and cheap chemical reactions. Polymerization reactions are catalyzed by hemozoin, a digestion product of the malaria parasite. The resulting polymers precipitate from solution, which can be quantified by simple turbidity measurements. In addition, the work showcases that polymerization reactions cannot only be used to synthesize polymers, but also act as a powerful molecular amplification method for biosensing in general.
Nico Bruns is a professor of Macromolecular chemistry at the University of Strathclyde since 2018. He studied Chemistry at the Universities of Freiburg and Edinburgh and graduated from the University of Freiburg in 2003, and then undertook a PhD in Macromolecular Chemistry in 2007. From 2007 to 2008, he continued his academic career as a postdoctoral researcher at The University of California, Berkley. In 2013, he was awarded a Swiss National Science Foundation professorship, which enabled him to join the Adolphe Merkle Institute. Here, he headed the Macromolecular Chemistry group as an Associate professor. His research encompasses an interdisciplinary, bio-inspired approach that combines polymer chemistry and protein engineering to create new opportunities for the sustainable synthesis of polymers.
Towards High-Performance SPAD based detectors for Positron Emission Tomography
Significant effort has been devoted to the development of SPAD-based detectors for positron emission tomography (PET), due to their compactness, suitable spectral range, fast response, and insensitivity to magnetic fields. New PET detectors built using SPAD arrays are capable of detecting photons over a large sensitive area with excellent time resolution. Apart from the photodetectors themselves, the electronics plays a major role, as timing, energy and spatial resolution must be quantified accurately and in a short amount of time. Thus, the detection system in PET is complex, and its functionality and performance must be taken into consideration during the design phase from top-level specifications.
Andrada Alexandra Muntean received her Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Electronics from Politehnica University of Timișoara, Romania, in 2015, and her Master’s Degree in Microelectronics from Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, in 2017. She is presently working towards her PhD in Microelectronics at the Advanced Quantum Architecture Laboratory (AQUA) at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. In 2016, Andrada also undertook an internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where she developed and characterised a far-ultraviolet spectrometer used for space applications.
The primary focus of her current PhD research is to develop SPAD-based CMOS image sensors and circuitry for biomedical applications; in particular for time-of-flight Positron Emission Tomography.
Dr Claudio Bruschini
SPAD-based detectors and imagers for biophotonics and other sensing applications
Single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) arrays are solid-state detectors that offer imaging capabilities at the level of individual photons, with unparalleled photon counting and time-resolved performance. This fascinating technology has progressed at a very fast pace in the past 15 years, since its inception in standard CMOS technology in 2003. A host of architectures have been investigated and a range of biophotonics applications explored, including FLIM, FLIM-FRET, SPIM-FCS, super-resolution microscopy, time-resolved Raman spectroscopy, NIROT and PET. We will review some representative sensors and their corresponding applications. Finally, we will provide an outlook on the future of this fascinating technology.
Dr Claudio Bruschini received his Master’s Degree in High Energy Physics from the University of Genova, and his PhD in Applied Sciences from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Dr Bruschini started his professional career in particle physics with the INFN, Italy, working in collaboration with CERN. Soon after, he moved to the EPFL, Switzerland, where he completed substantial work developing landmine detection technologies and humanitarian demining related projects.
He participated in diverse projects in partnership with the EPFL Laboratory in Intelligent Systems, the Lausanne University Hospital, and the EPFL Integrated Circuits Laboratory. He is currently part of the EPFL AQUA group (Advanced Quantum Architectures), holding significant expertise in photonic and electronic quantum devices, single-photon detectors, and biomedical physics.
Dr Giulia Acconcia
Getting fast in single photon measurements: new challenges and ideas with Single Photon Avalanche Diodes
Single Photon Avalanche Diodes (SPADs) are photodetectors that can not only detect single photons, but they can also mark their times of arrival with picosecond precision. These peculiar features opened the way to the successful exploitation of SPADs in a wide variety of applications, like fluorescence lifetime imaging, Earth atmosphere profiling, quantum key distribution and many others. Nowadays, achieving high speed with SPADs is still an open challenge. In this webinar, I will discuss new architectures, ideas, and developed electronics and systems to overcome long-held speed limitations both in photon counting and photon timing.
Dr Giulia Acconcia received her Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Engineering and her Master’s Degree in Electronics Engineering from Politecnico di Milano in 2011 and 2013, respectively. She holds a PhD in Information Technology and is currently a Junior Researcher in the Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Bioingegneria at Politecnico di Milano.
Her main research interests concern the design and development of integrated circuits required to extract timing information with extremely high performance from Single Photon Avalanche Diodes and to achieve high speed with these sensors in both counting and timing applications. She is involved in many aspects of SPAD-based systems, including modelling, front end design, module development and applications.
Dr Sara Pellegrini
Industrialised SPADs in Deep-submicron CMOS technology and their applications
SPAD devices have only recently been successfully integrated into a fully industrial CMOS process. I will present STMicroelectronics’ SPADs integrated into a 40nm CMOS technology node. This highly advanced node allows for high level integration of the SPAD readout circuit and a time-of-flight system just next to the sensitive array.
Thanks to this technology a miniature direct time-of-flight system was developed capable of multi-zone parallel ranging at long distance, which enables a plurality of applications such as auto-focus assist, LiDAR, gesture recognition and many others.
Dr Sara Pellegrini received her Master’s Degree from the Politecnico di Milano, Italy, in 1999, and her PhD in Physics from Heriot-Watt University, UK, in 2006. After garnering experience in SPAD design and characterisation during her PhD, she joined STMicroelectronics in Edinburgh. Here, she worked her way up from a position as a CMOS Camera Characterisation Engineer in 2006, to SPAD Technology Manager in 2014. From her ample experience in the electrical and optical characterisation of CMOS sensors and the development of SPAD technology, Dr Pellegrini secured a principal role as an Advanced Photonics Pixel Architect in 2017. Her current position within STMicroelectronics to date, Dr Pellegrini is primarily engaged in the research and development of leading-edge photonic pixels.
Craig Fleming, Head of Business Development, R3 IoT Limited
With COP26 fast approaching, sustainability has never featured higher up on the board’s agenda – but how can you improve sustainability, if you are only dealing with the tip of the iceberg?
R3-IoT’s Craig Fleming will discuss why new IoT technologies alone will not provide industry with the insight to activate sustainable change, and why space communications technology is the missing jigsaw piece to meet net zero targets.
Jesús Lucero Ezquerro, Analyst, Orbital EOS (Earth Observation Solutions)
After having worked 12 years in aerial remote sensing for the Spanish Maritime Safety & Rescue Agency (SASEMAR), Orbital EOS embraces new technologies in order to fly higher. Using Space Technologies + AI to foster a privileged vision of maritime data with both optical and SAR sensors, being pioneers in the first one. A network of Earth Observation radar and optical satellites promotes a constant, proactive and cost-efficient monitoring of assets, even at remote locations. Synergy among different constellations offers unprecedented capabilities in terms of coverage and frequency of monitoring.
Paula McGregor, Ecometrica
Ecometrica specialises in downstream satellite data applications to embed and operationalise environmental and risk based insights in new markets. Paula will introduce Ecometrica’s Earth Observation work with a focus on 2 key projects; Forests 2020, and the Scottish Earth Observation Service (SEOS). With a focus on environmental monitoring, each of these programmes utilise satellite assets for good, helping to protect and monitor the natural environment. Topics covered will include use of satellite derived data for supply chain monitoring (specifically in West Africa) and user requirements for satellite applications in Scotland.
Prof Andy Harvey is a Professor of Optics and Chair in Experimental Physics at the University of Glasgow. He researches new imaging and optical measurement techniques at wavelengths from the visible, through the infrared to microwave frequencies. He works with end users to exploit this research in fields ranging through remote sensing, surveillance and consumer imaging through to biomedicine and, in particular, ophthalmic imaging. He is also Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligent sensing and Measurement.
Dr Cristian Manzoni, Istituto di Fotonica e Nanotecnologie – Consoglio Nazionale delle Ricerche
Dr Cristian Manzoni graduated in 2002 in Electronic Engineering from Politecnico di Milano, where in the same year he enrolled in his PhD in the School of Physics. His research focuses on the parametric generation, characterisation, and applications of ultra-short laser light pulses. He also works with time-resolved optical spectroscopy measurements, with particular attention on nanoscale systems such as quantum-dots and carbon nanotubes.
Ms Yamuna Dilip Pal, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Yamuna received her BS degree in Electrical engineering from IIT Roorkee and MS degree in Electrical engineering from Caltech. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in Electrical Engineering under Prof. Rohit Bhargava at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to this, she worked with Finisar, and Swedish Institute of Space Physics as an Analog Design Engineer. Her previous research focused on developing instrumentation for space applications. She is currently researching and developing fast infrared spectroscopic imaging systems with extended analytical dimensions that enable polarized and vibrational circular dichroism imaging.
Mr Gianmaria Calisesi, Politecnico di Milano
Gianmaria Calisesi is a third year PhD student at Politecnico di Milano. He is mainly interested in optical microscopy techniques applied to photosensitive samples. He has spent the last several months developing a technique called compressed sensing – selected volume illumination microscopy (CS-SVIM), which takes advantage of volumetric light modulation and compressed sensing to reduce the total light dose required to fully reconstruct a 3D sample. From August 2019 to December 2019, he was an affiliate at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, investigating compressed measurement routines of nanowires and transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) obtained with SEM.
Dr Abhishek Upadhyay, University of Strathclyde
Dr Abhishek Upadhyay has been working on tuneable diode laser spectroscopy (TDLS) for the measurement of gas parameters since he gained his PhD in 2010. As an expert in the field, he has collaborated with Rolls-Royce, Shell, and the Universities of Manchester, Southampton, and Strathclyde, leading the developing of gas sensing technologies under the EPSRC-funded project Fibre Laser Imaging for gas Turbine Exhaust Species (FLITES). Currently he is working on the commercialisation of FLITES outcomes, and on photoacoustic measurement for early diagnosis of atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases.
Dr Rogério Nogueira, Universidade de Aveiro
Dr Rogério Nogueira is Senior Researcher at the Aveiro Instituto de Telecomunicações. His work focuses on the study and development of fibre Bragg gratings for energy efficient communications and optical biosensors. This work has led to a broad portfolio of patents and the spin-out compant WATGRID, which offers new solutions for liquid monitoring. He has also holds leadership positions in several optics societies, and co-founded the Portuguese Optical Society in 2010.
Dr Angelo Sampaolo, Politecnico di Bari
Dr Angelo Sampaolo is an assistant professor at Politecnico di Bari and an associate researcher at the Institute of Laser Spectroscopy of Shanxi University in Taiyuan. His research activity has included the study of the thermal properties of heterostructured devices via Raman spectroscopy. Most recently, his research has focused on the development of innovative techniques in trace gas sensing, based on quartz-enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy and covering the full spectral range from near-infrared to terahertz.
Dr Jano van Hemert, Optos
Dr Jano van Hemert directs the research at Optos, where his team develops novel technology for retinal imaging in eye healthcare. He actively promotes the partnership of business and universities for innovation, and is an active member on boards including the Scottish Funding Council’s Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee. Jano received an MSc in 1998 and a PhD in 2002, both from Leiden University in The Netherlands, and arrived in Scotland in 2004. In 2009 he was awarded membership of the inaugural Scottish Crucible and in 2011 was awarded membership of the inaugural Young Academy of Scotland.
Dr Fátima Domingues, Universidade de Aveiro
M. Fátima Domingues received the M.Sc. degree in Applied Physics in 2008 and in 2014 she finished her PhD in Physics Engineering, both at the University of Aveiro, Portugal. In 2015 M. Fátima Domingues started a Research Fellow position at the Instituto de Telecomunicações – Aveiro; and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)-Madrid, Spain. At present, M. Fátima Domingues is a Researcher at Instituto de Telecomunicações – Aveiro, and her current research interests embrace new solutions of optical fibre based sensors and its application in robotic exoskeletons and e-Health scenarios, with a focus in physical rehabilitation architectures. Dr. Domingues authored and co-authored more than +100 publications and has an active participation in Portuguese National and European R&D projects.
Ms Caterina Amendola, Politecnico di Milano
Caterina Amendola is a PhD student in the Department of Physics at Politecnico di Milano. She works on the development and clinical application of diffuse optics (DO) techniques for tissue hemodynamic monitoring of preterm and term neonates, in collaboration with Mangiagalli Hospital in Milan. From September 2017 to March 2018, she worked on biomedical imaging and X-ray phase contrast techniques at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). She is currently working on the development of a hybrid DO device which combines time domain near-infrared spectroscopy (TD-NIRS) and diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) for monitoring tissue haemoglobin concentration and blood flow.
Dr Calum Williams, University of Cambridge
Dr Calum Williams completed his doctoral research in 2017 in plasmatic nanostructures for enhanced optical devices, after four years of study as part of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Photonic Systems Development at the University of Cambridge. Calum is now a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, funded by the Cancer Research UK Pioneer Award, where he works to unify optical imaging modalities using nanophotonics. He also has research collaborations with the University of Bath and NASA, involving the development of novel nanostructured optical devices for a range of applications.
Dr Christoph Englert (Profile) Particle Physics in the Higgs Era
Our understanding of the weak force has been spectacularly verified with the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012. Where does particle physics go from here? I will review the major shortcomings of the Standard Model of Particle Physics and discuss how they motivate new precision investigations of the electroweak interactions at present and future colliders. These theoretical developments are joined by a rapid adoption and the development of machine learning techniques in the context of particle phenomenology, which will enable the most robust constraints on the presence of new interactions beyond the Standard Model or facilitate their discovery.
Prof Monica D’Onofrio (Profile) Searching for SUSY and other new physics models at the LHC
So far, knowledge of how fundamental particles behave is encapsulated in the Standard Model (SM) of particle physics. However, the theory lacks answers to many questions, including what is the invisible (dark) matter that, according to cosmological measurements, forms five times as much of the universe as the matter we see. Supersymmetry (SUSY) is still one of the most compelling theories beyond the SM which could give answers to some of these questions, in particular providing a solution to the dark matter mystery. In this talk, I shall give you a brief overview of how LHC experimentalists are searching for new physics and some of the results and milestones reached so far.
Prof Daniela Bortoletto (Profile) The long road to finding the Higgs boson. A journey in the hunt, the discovery, and the study of the particle that gives mass to the Universe
The Higgs mechanism was postulated in the 1960s, starting a quest to validate the theory experimentally. The search culminated with the discovery at CERN of the long-sought Higgs boson in 2012, almost 50 years after it was first conceived. The discovery was a triumph for both experimental and theoretical particle physics. I will take you through this journey and discuss why this search was so challenging. I will highlight why building a discovery machine, the LHC, and critical advancements in detector technologies were vital for producing and capturing this particle’s decays. I will give you a glimpse into the next steps required to unlock the mysteries of the Higgs boson.
Prof Craig Buttar (Profile) A Gigapixel detector for the ATLAS experiment
The physics of the very small requires large state of the art detectors capable of measuring the properties of the particles produced in the collisions so that the event can be reconstructed and compared to current physical models. In this talk, I will describe the pixel detector system that is being developed for operation in the ATLAS experiment at the high-luminosity LHC. The development of sensors and their readout will be described and the system level challenges will be discussed.
Prof Pablo Jarillo-Herrero (Profile) The magic of moiré quantum matter
The understanding of strongly-correlated quantum matter has challenged physicists for decades. Such difficulties have stimulated new research paradigms, such as ultra-cold atom lattices for simulating quantum materials. In this talk I will present a new platform to investigate strongly correlated physics, namely moiré quantum matter. In particular, I will show that when two graphene sheets are twisted by an angle close to the theoretically predicted ‘magic angle’, the resulting flat band structure near the Dirac point gives rise to a strongly-correlated electronic system. These flat bands systems exhibit a plethora of quantum phases, such as correlated insulators, superconductivity, magnetism, Chern insulators, and more. Furthermore, it is possible to extend the moiré quantum matter paradigm to systems beyond magic angle graphene, and I will present an outlook of some exciting directions in this emerging field.
Prof Cinzia Casiraghi (Profile) Water-based, defects-free and biocompatible 2D inks: from printed electronics to biomedical applications
Solution processing of 2D materials allows to use simple and low-cost techniques such as inkjet printing for fabrication of heterostructures of arbitrary complexity. In this work I will show a general formulation engineering approach to achieve highly concentrated, and inkjet printable water-based 2D crystal formulations, which also provide optimal film formation for multi-stack fabrication. Examples of all-inkjet printed devices, such as large area arrays of photosensors on plastic, programmable logic memory devices, strain sensors on paper, capacitors and transistors will be discussed. The inks biocompatibility also allows their use in biomedical applications.
We investigate the precise synthesis of 2D materials and their assembly into three-dimensional functional devices for energy storage and energy conversion systems. The precise synthesis enables critical level of control through the crystal structure and doping, so that we can go beyond chemical composition of 2D materials. In this talk I will present our recent work in these directions.
Prof Paolo Samorì (Profile) Chemical and physical sensing with 2D materials
Two dimensional materials display exceptional physical and chemical properties which can be further enriched via controlled interfacing with (supra)molecular assemblies. Molecules, which can be designed and synthesized with properties at will, are able to impart them novel functions to 2D materials such as the capacity to respond to multiple external stimuli, with the ultimate goal of generating multifunctional hybrid systems for applications in (opto)electronics, sensing and energy.
In my lecture, I will review our recent findings on the functionalization of 2D materials to engineer hybrid assemblies that can operate as selective chemical sensors for small molecules and ions [2,3]. I will also describe the fabrication of highly sensitive pressure and strain sensors for health monitoring.