Gabriel Popescu

Electrical and Computer Engineering
Gabriel Popescu
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
4055 Beckman Institute MC 251
405 N. Mathews
Urbana Illinois 61801

Primary Research Area

  • Biomedical Imaging, Bioengineering, and Acoustics

For more information



  • Ph.D. in Optics, 2002, College of Optics and Photonics, University of Central Florida


Gabriel Popescu is an Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received the B.S. and M.S. in Physics from University of Bucharest, in 1995 and 1996, respectively, obtained his M.S. in Optics in 1999, and the Ph.D. in Optics in 2002 from the School of Optics/ CREOL (now the College of Optics and Photonics), University of Central Florida. Dr. Popescu continued his training with the G. R. Harrison Spectroscopy Laboratory at M.I.T., working as a postdoctoral associate. He joined Illinois in August 2007 where he directs the Quantitative Light Imaging Laboratory (QLI Lab) at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. Dr. Popescu served as an Associate Editor of Optics Express and Biomedical Optics Express, Editorial Board Member for Journal of Biomedical Optics, and Scientific Reports. He authored a book, edited another book, authored 125 journal publications, 185 conference presentations, 38 patents, gave 150 invited talks. Dr. Popescu founded Phi Optics, Inc., a start-up company that commercializes quantitative phase imaging technology. He is OSA Fellow and SPIE Fellow.

Teaching Statement

ECE 460- Optical Imaging:

ECE 564- Modern Light Microscopy:

Research Statement

Our lab develops novel optical methods based on light scattering, interferometry, and microscopy, to image cells and tissues quantitatively and with nanoscale sensitivity. We apply our techniques to both basic science (e.g., cell dynamics, cell growth, intracellular transport, membrane fluctuations, tissue optics) and clinical applications (e.g., blood screening, cancer diagnosis). We are located in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prof. Gabriel Popescu is faculty in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and affiliated faculty in Bioengineering; our group members are from Physics, Electrical, Mechanical, and Bioengineering.

Post-Doctoral Research Opportunities

We look for dedicated postdocs that are interested to lead. We are a biomedical optics lab that aims to apply new technology to understanding cell function and disease quantitatively. Besides leading their own research porjects, the postdocs in our lab are expected to work closely with several graduate students and porvide guidance.

Graduate Research Opportunities

We look for dedicated graduate students that enjoy being scientifically challenged on a regular basis. We are a biomedical optics lab that aims to apply new technology to understanding cell function and disease quantitatively. Our students learn how to do everything, from building/aligning an optical setup and understanding the biological problem to acquiring data, analyzing them, and presenting the results in high impact publications and conferences. Our record for most publications by a graduate student is standing at 21 (twenty one) peer-reviewed articles. Our students tend to win awards and become famous.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

We are actively looking for undergraduate students with programing skills, C/C++, CUDA, OpenCV, Qt, Java, interested in developing the new generation of automated microscopes.

Research Interests

  • Globally affordable blood testing
  • Interference microscopy
  • Optical properties of cells and tissues
  • Cancer diagnosis
  • Label-free imaging
  • Neuronal dynamics
  • Quantiative phase imaging of cells and tissues
  • Biomedical Optics/ Biophotonics

Research Topics

  • Computational science and engineering
  • Healthcare and medical technologies
  • Imaging science and systems
  • Medical imaging
  • Photonics: optical engineering and systems
  • Sensing systems

Selected Articles in Journals

  • T. Kim*, R. Zhou*, M. Mir, S. D. Babacan, P. S. Carney, L. L. Goddard and G. Popescu, White-light diffraction tomography of unlabelled live cells, Nature Photonics, 8, 256-263 (2014)
  • Z. Wang, L. J. Millet, M. Mir, H. Ding, S. Unarunotai, J. A. Rogers, M. U. Gillette and G. Popescu, "Spatial light interference microscopy (SLIM)", Opt. Exp., 19, 1016-1026 (2011).
  • H. Ding, Z. Wang, F. Nguyen, S. A. Boppart, and G. Popescu, "Fourier transform light scattering of inhomogeneous and dynamic structures", Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 238102 1-4 (2008).
  • G. Popescu, T. Ikeda, R. R. Dasari, and M. S. Feld, “Diffraction phase microscopy for quantifying cell structure and dynamics”, Opt. Lett., 31, 775-777 (2006).


  • SPIE Fellow (2014)
  • New Venture Competition Finalist with Phi Optics, Office of Technology Management, UIUC 2014 (2014)
  • 2013, “Quantitative phase imaging of live cells using fast Fourier phase microscopy" is top 20 most cited Applied Optics papers in the past 5 years (AO publishes >1,000 papers/year) (2013)
  • 2013, “Spatial Light Interference Microscopy” is one of top 20 most cited papers in Optics Express over the past 2 years (OE publishes ~2,800 papers/ year) (2013)
  • Center for Advanced Studies Fellow, UIUC 2012-2013 (2012-2013)
  • Innovation Discovery award Finalist, UIUC 2012 (2012)
  • OSA Senior Member (2011)
  • 2009 NSF CAREER Award (2009)

Teaching Honors

  • Incomplete List of Excellent Teachers (Fall 2008)

Courses Taught

  • BIOE 497 - Individual Study
  • BIOE 572 - Biological Measurement II
  • ECE 398 - Fourier Optics
  • ECE 460 - Optical Imaging
  • ECE 500 - ECE Colloquium
  • ECE 564 - Modern Light Microscopy