Norman Edmund Inspiration Award — $5,000 in Products
Schepens Eye Research Institute , USA — submitted by Michael Stahl
Mr. Stahl, who is a visually impaired biomedical engineer, uses his project to show others how innovation can work to overcome personal and professional challenges. He hopes his device, which improves accessibility, mobility and safety, will help to motivate other talented visually impaired professionals and future scientists to develop their own ideas on how optics based products can improve the lives of the visually impaired. “Many devices have been developed to aid the visually impaired, but none are making a large impact on quality of life because they don’t fit into the modern lifestyle,” said Mr. Stahl. “My own experiences have enabled me to develop something that works, is hands-free and does not require unsightly masks or goggles.” He hopes his project will encourage other professionals with or without visual impairments to do the same.
Americas — $10,000 in Products
University of Washington, USA — Submitted by Jarred Swalwell
In developing flow cytometers, using filters, laser mirrors, objectives and various mechanics, for marine research with an optical technology that makes it possible to perform continuous flow cytometric analysis on sea water without the need for clean water, measuring roughly 75,000 km of ocean while on board research vessels and container ships. Roughly 50% of atmospheric CO2 is converted to fixed carbon and oxygen via photosynthesis by ocean algae; however, through warming and acidification the environment in which algae thrives is drastically changing. Currently, Swalwell’s device is designed to capture the numbers and types of algae across ocean basins while measuring microbes in remote places without the need for pre-filtration or clean water, through sampling on board ocean vessels. By developing a compact low power version of this instrument, the measurement platform would be extended to include autonomous underwater vehicles, ocean moorings and research buoys. Ideally, this technology will investigate the water quality in poor areas of the world as well as the impact of industrialization on nearby waterways.
Asia — $10,000 (USD) in Products
Nagoya University (名古屋大学), Japan — Submitted by Dr. Masahito Yamanaka
For the development of super resolution 3D imaging technology which uses the high-brightness of rare-earth metals and nanoparticles along with highly nonlinear optical emissions. Dr. Yamanaka’s project uniquely looks deep inside biological samples with the production of customized high contract, low S/N fluorescence imaging system featuring high-end optical filters, cage systems and focus tunable lenses, etc. Using previous super-resolution technology, it was difficult to observe the inside of test samples with a large refractive index because the objects observed were limited to the thickness of one to several cells. It is necessary to have technology that can perform three-dimensional, super-resolution observation of tissue, in order to comprehend the biological behavior toward biological functions and drugs. The outcome of this research will bring a clear understanding of biological activity and will also contribute immensely to regenerative medicine and innovative drug development since we will be able to visualize specific areas and forms within tissue.
Europe — €7,000 in Products
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland — Submitted by Ms. Outi Supponen
For research which focuses on the dynamics of collapsing cavitation bubbles. Hydrodynamic cavitation, which is the growth and collapse of vapor bubbles in depressurized liquid zones, is a major source of erosion and vibration damage in many industrial systems. This damage is associated with liquid jets, emitted shockwaves and extremely high core temperatures reached at the last stage of bubble collapse. During Supponen’s research, she has come across many interesting applications for these bubbles, such as needle-free injections, microfluidic pumps, new printing technologies, transportation of medicine and much more. The main purpose of this research however, is to create and observe these bubbles in a highly controlled environment, using high-energy lasers, high-speed cameras as well as spectrometers.
Americas — $7,500 in Products
Temple University, USA — Submitted by Vira Oleksyuk
For non-invasive breast cancer diagnostics using a multimodal imaging system which combines tactile and hyperspectral capabilities to discern malignant and benign tumors. Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers for women, with more than 200,000 new cases each year and 40,000 fatalities from the disease. The common diagnostic path for patients is clinical examination, mammography, ultrasound, which is then followed by an invasive biopsy procedure. Oleksyuk’s proposed system uses tactile images, which quantify mechanical properties of tumors, such as size, depth, elastic modulus and mobility. The spectral images reveal biochemical information about the suspicious region. A custom algorithm fuses the information from both tactile and spectral images to suggest the diagnosis. This device, which features a CMOS sensor and traditional coated 700-999nm bandpass filters, can greatly improve breast cancer diagnostic routine in rural areas and developing countries as well.
Asia — $7,500 (USD) in Products
Pohang University of Science and Technology (포항공과대학교), South Korea — Submitted by Professor Junsuk Rho
For research into the development of a new imaging system for bio samples and nano-size structures imaging beyond the sub-wavelength size. Professor Rho's team aims to develop an optical microscope system having a resolution less than the diffraction limit through a hyperlens made of metamaterial. The resolution of conventional microscopy is restricted by the diffraction limit. Because of the diffraction limit, the spatial information smaller than one-half of the wavelength can’t be propagated to the far field. Hyperlenses have emerged to make it possible to propagate sub-diffraction scale evanescent field to far field as propagating waves. The goal of this project is to develop a new type of far-field super resolution optical microscopy, where the Hyperlens microscopy system is combined with conventional bright field optical microscope, using a high-powered laser, filters, a multi-focus lens, and a high-powered 100x objective lens. With this technology, the team hopes to predict and cure numerous diseases in real time monitoring.
Europe — €5,000 in Products
Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands — Submitted by Peter Christian Bakker
For research on the topic of internal combustion engines, specifically the burn-out phase. During this last phase of the combustion process, not all of the fuel is burned and converted to heat. This leads to a significant reduction of the thermodynamic efficiency of the whole process. As of today, there has been little research conducted on this field, answering the questions of how the burn-out phase can be influenced and optimized. Bakker’s research group intends to investigate the last stages of diesel fuel combustion in a complementary numerical and experimental approach. Leveraging several laser-diagnostic techniques, the composition of the late flame is characterized in both optically-accessible diesel engines as well as in fixed-volume spray combustion vessels. These techniques include 2-photon laser-induced fluorescence and multi-kHz laser-induced incandescence. Ultimately, the outcome of this research will help to increase the energy efficiency of diesel engines and will be used by one of the major oil companies to re-design their diesel fuel.