On-Chip Spectrometer for Pre-Cancerous Detection Applications

Project: Research project

Project Details


This proposal focuses on the development of an on-chip optical spectrometer for the detection of pre-cancerous epithelial cells. This on-chip optical spectrometer probe will be realized using novel technologies that surpass current endoscopic systems.

Intellectual Merit: The novelty of the proposed approach is revealed through the following three specific research tasks. First, a switchable optical filter will be developed based on polymer dispersed liquid crystal films. These filters will enable high throughput, full visible wavelength spectrum filtering in a thin-film package with no mechanical parts. This will provide the spectral wavelengths required for light scattering detection technique. Second, new ultrafast GaAs detector arrays will be developed for high-speed, low noise reflection and back-scattering measurements. Through these measurements, changes in cell size and nuclear crowding can be detected as a main indication of low grade dysplasia. And lastly, new modeling techniques and algorithms will be developed to provide system performance predictions of white light scattering spectroscopy from biological tissues in order to detect and classify dysplastic cells. The PIs will integrate each of these research tasks into their pre-cancerous detection probe, which will be tested through small animal studies performed with their collaborators at the Drexel School of Medicine.

Broader Impacts: The proposed on-chip spectrometer impacts fields beyond endoscopy, including generic in-vivo biological sensing (cervical and colon epithelial cells), gas and biological characterization, and WDM decomposition are natural extensions of the proposed research. In addition, each specific research topic (liquid crystal tunable filters, ultra-fast detectors, and simulation algorithms) is a stand-alone contribution to the scientific community. Educationally, the proposed project enables students and researchers to explore the multi-disciplinary area of photonics, electronics, biology, and system design through the development of courses, labs, and hands-on research experiences which will prepare a qualified next-generation engineering force for US leadership in the growing optical microsystem field.

Effective start/end date9/1/069/30/11


  • National Science Foundation: $246,001.00


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