Research & Innovation Services

GLOphotonics: Accelerating the commercialisation of photonic microcell (PMC) technology

KTA Proof of Concept Award

Dept of Physics and Elforlight Ltd., Raydiance Inc. (USA), MPB Communications Inc. (Canada) and National Institutes of Health (USA)
Dr Fetah Benabid
“I wish to convey my utmost satisfaction regarding the performance of your hollow-core photonic crystal fibre and photonic microcell technology for our ultrafast fibre laser applications. … Raydiance has already garnered interest from commercial, academic and government customers as a result of the initial ‘beam delivery fibre’ demonstrations.”

Dr Michael M. Mielke, Chief Scientist, Raydiance, Inc.
“I believe that the combination of your technology and the MBP laser … has proven to be a real differentiator for integrating this equipment into a commercial flow cytometer.”

Dr William Telford, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

Challenge

Laser technology offers the potential for revolutionising certain biomedical applications, such as: detecting fluorescent cell surface molecules in flow cytometry, of particular relevance to immunology; DNA sequencing employing fluorescent dyes to reveal biological markers; forensic detection of latent fingerprints and other trace evidence in crime scenes; and bio-agent detection, in which lasers are used to detect pathogens or bio-toxins. 

Limitations in developing such technology include: gaps in provision of biomedically useful wavelengths in the near-UV and visible range (300 to 700 nm); lasers lacking high spectral definition and large dynamic ranges of optical power; and the requirement for ease of use by biomedical staff who are not laser specialists.

Solution

The photonic microcell (PMC) was invented by Dr Fetah Benabid and his team at the Department of Physics, University of Bath.  A PMC consists of 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 narrow range of wavelengths, it converts the beam into several of tightly proscribed wavelengths, addressing many of the challenges of conventional biomedical lasers.

Benefits and outcomes

  • This KTA project demonstrated technological readiness for commercialisation of PMC technology by building three prototype devices, which were subjected successfully to various levels of testing in-house and by industrial collaborators.
  • The project also generated an investment-worthy business plan based on market research, assessed the viability of manufacturing scale-up, and established the spin-out company, GLOphotonics SAS.
  • GLOphotonics SAS has been set up in close association with the University of Limoges, France, and benefits from the services of AVRUL (the Limousin region University Research Transfer Agency) in helping the move from the laboratory to the commercial marketplace.
  • GLOphotonics SAS’s future activities, as well as being applied to the biomedical sector, could include micro-material processing applied to chip lithography for the emerging plastic microelectronics industry.

KTA team

Dr Fetah Benabid, Principal Investigator, Department of Physics
Dr Francois Couny, KE Fellow, Department of Physics
David Richards, KE Mentor and CEO GLOphotonics SAS
David Coleman, Technology Transfer Manager, Bath Ventures

Funded by the University of Bath’s EPSRC Knowledge Transfer Account.