Phys.org features photonic sensor research

6/10/2016

Claire Hettinger, ECE ILLINOIS

Photonic sensor research being done at the University of Illinois was featured in a Phys.org article, "New photonic sensor opens the door to high-speed biodetection." The highlights the new work and new discoveries made with free flowing particles with an opto-mechano-fluidic resonator.

Photograph of a fluid meniscus inside an opto-mechano-fluidic resonator (OMFR) made of high purity silica glass. Particles flowing through the internal microchannel can be detected optically at extremely high speed.
Photograph of a fluid meniscus inside an opto-mechano-fluidic resonator (OMFR) made of high purity silica glass. Particles flowing through the internal microchannel can be detected optically at extremely high speed.

Gaurav Bahl, ECE affiliate faculty member and assistant professor of mechanical science and engineering at Illinois, explained in the article, "It is known that diseases such as cancers and anemia can correlate with mechanical properties of cells such as compressibility and viscoelasticity, but these properties are not used diagnostically due to absence of tools with enough speed and sensitivity to perform the measurement."

Gaurav Bahl
Gaurav Bahl
Bahl said, "Because of this, we have a substantial knowledge-gap, and have barely scratched the surface of understanding of how diseases modify the mechanical properties of cells in our body. Developing knowledge around the mechanics of cells and bioparticles can help us understand the mobility of these micro-objects throughout the human body, about how tumors form, about how cells and bacteria can propagate through us, how diseases spread, and more."

"In this study, we aimed to blend the best features of optical sensing, i.e. the extremely high bandwidth and sensitivity, with mechanical sensing which gives us the ability to measure mechanical properties," stated Kewen Han, MNTL graduate student and doctoral candidate and first author of the paper appearing in the June 2016 edition of Optica said in the article.

OMFRs employ phonons (quasiparticles of sound and vibration) to engage the conversation between the flowing analyte particles and circulating photons (particles of light) in the silica glass shell. In doing so, they make light sensitive to the mechanical parameters of the analyte.
OMFRs employ phonons (quasiparticles of sound and vibration) to engage the conversation between the flowing analyte particles and circulating photons (particles of light) in the silica glass shell. In doing so, they make light sensitive to the mechanical parameters of the analyte.
 "To achieve this, we have developed a new microfluidic opto-mechanical device that optically detects the mechanical perturbations created by individual microparticles flowing through the fluidic channel at very high speed."

Other media outlets have picked up the story, including Optics and Photonics News.