The biomedical applications of laser technology are vast, from the sequencing of DNA using fluorescent dyes to show biological markers, to the forensic detection of fingerprints at crime scenes.

However, there are major limitations in the development and use of laser technologies, including:

  • the lack of useful visible wavelengths for biomedical use
  • the complicated nature of the technology preventing non-specialist staff from using it effectively

Compact, tailored lasers

In response to these limitations, a research team at Bath has developed the Photonic Microcell (PMC), a hollow-core photonic crystal fibre containing a few nanolitres of an optically-active gas.

When a PMC is powered by a small laser shining a single green colour, it converts it into several discrete colours, turning one laser into several.

It can also emit at wavelengths (colours) that existing lasers fail to address, allowing for the development of compact lasers, tailored for biomedical applications - where there is a strong need for both special wavelengths and user-friendly lasers.

From the laboratory to the commercial marketplace

Through developing three successful prototype devices, this project demonstrated the technical readiness for commercialisation of the PMC.

During the project, the manufacturing scale-up of the PMC was assessed, and the spin-out company GLOphotonics SAS was set up.

The company is now working in close association with the University of Limoges in France and with AVRUL (the Limousin region University Research Transfer Agency) to ensure a successful move from the laboratory to the commercial marketplace.

REF submission

This research was part of our REF 2014 submission for Physics.