Biophotonics is at the intersection of photonics and biology. In biophotonics, light is used to image, detect, and manipulate biological materials. In biology, biophotonic tools are used to probe biomolecular structure, function, and interactions. In medicine, biophotonic tools are used to study tissue and blood at the micro- and macro-organism level for the non-invasive detection, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases. The key measurement challenges for quantitative biophotonics research arise from a combination of poor understanding of light/tissue interactions such as artifact generation, multiscattering, and limited penetration and concomitant poor image interpretation based upon faulty assumptions.
This research involves the development of quantitative measurement techniques to elucidate the light/molecule interactions at the single photon and single molecule level. Techniques for the generation of single photons by nanomaterials such as nitrogen vacancy in a diamond nanocrystal at room temperature are explored for the applications of microscopy and spectroscopy of biological molecules. Measurement platforms to correlate the optical characteristics of single molecules and contrast in images of cells and tissues are developed and applied for quantitative microscopy and spectroscopy of molecules in single cells.
The ultimate goal of this project is to enable quantitative molecular imaging and spectroscopic technologies to enable broad research and development opportunities in health science, including quantitative imaging to elucidate the function of specific biomolecules in vivo, optical diagnosis and treatment involving photosensitizing molecules, and novel optical tools that interrogate and manipulate molecular and cellular mechanisms.
Equipment and facilities available for this project include the following: (1) Leica SP5X hyperspectral confocal microscope with a white-light pulsed laser and a Ti:Sapphire laser, spectrograph-coupled photon-counting detectors, and single Pico-quant photon counting correlation spectroscopy; (2) Olympus TIRF microscope with a ultra-fast sCMOS camera, a UV-VIS laser, and fast polarization-controlled illumination; (3) hyperspectral dark-field imaging to enable spectroscopic scatter imaging; (4) spectral-domain optical coherence tomography with open source code signal processing algorithms; (5) a variety of computational and modeling software packages including Finite-Difference Time-Domain (FDTD) simulation software for electromagnetic field calculation, COMSOL Multiphysics numerical simulation package, Gaussian electronic structure calculation program, and IDL/ENVI software for the analysis of hyperspectral image data; and (6) a BSL2 laboratory equipped with a 3D printer for 3D cell culture and a variety of analytical chemistry equipment including fluorometer, UV-VIS spectrometer, circular dichroism spectrometer, etc.
Biophotonics; Photonics; Single photon; Single molecule; Single cell; Imaging; Microscopy; Spectroscopy, Photosensitizer;