From Aerospace Safety to Cancer Detection: New Frontiers in Photonics
Optical fibers ushered in a bold new era in communications and advanced computing. Now, this optical technology, also known as photonics, is moving into a radically different frontier with novel industrial, environmental and biomedical uses.
Dr. Jacques Albert, Canada Research Chair in Advanced Photonic Components, is exploring novel applications in physics and biochemistry by designing optical fibre components to create photonic sensors.
These devices support the development of diagnostic tools that have applications in biomedicine, environmental contamination and the structural integrity of large structures and vehicles. They have the potential to improve many aspects of modern life, from food and drinking water safety to cancer detection.
Albert’s research explores the complex manipulation of light waves through modifications inside the core of an optical fibre that allow for specific mechanical and chemical properties to be literally sensed.
His research has led to industrially relevant diagnostic tools to monitor pressure, temperature, flow and vibration. He and his research team are also investigating photonic sensors as a means of detecting toxins in food and water and identifying other environmental hazards.
Albert is partnering with other researchers to investigate a biochemical probe to measure cell density (an indication of cell health).
This probe could someday differentiate human acute leukemia cells from healthy cells. This next-generation photonics research will also broaden the possibilities for many other biomedical and engineering applications.