Carleton Biophotonics Research Group

Research Overview

Our goal is to apply new advances in an emerging technology known as optical molecular spectroscopy/imaging as means to explore a new modality of diagnostic techniques which will be less invasive, lower cost and can be translated into point-of-care devices. Optical molecular spectroscopy/imaging can provide biochemical/structural information on tissues and can provide ultrahigh spatial resolution (~0.5 ┬Ám) in near-real time, with high disease sensitivity and specificity, often in a non- or minimally-invasive way.

Our research involves the application of near-infrared laser light to develop optical techniques for imaging live cells and tissue based on linear and nonlinear light-matter interactions. These include spontaneous Raman scattering, two photon excitation fluorescence (TPEF), second harmonic generation (SHG) and coherent Raman scattering (CRS). There are three main themes in this work.

Raman micro-spectroscopy for label-free cellular diagnostics

Raman Spectroscopy (RS), combined with statistical multivariate analysis, is a powerful optical technique for the label-free analysis of cells and tissue. It is based on the inelastic scattering of light by vibrating molecules, and provides a molecular fingerprint of the chemical composition of the specimen in terms, e.g., of amino acids, proteins, lipids and DNA. The current research projects involve the application of RS to:

  • Detect ovarian cancer
  • Identify ovarian tumor that is resistant to treatment
  • Detect the sensitivity of Human Lens Epithelial (HLE) cells to varying doses of radiation exposure.

  • Nonlinear optical imaging for rapid quantitative diagnostics

    Coherent Raman scattering is a nonlinear optical technique that increases the Raman scattering efficiency by several orders of magnitude. This results in short (only a couple of seconds) image acquisition times compared to many minutes or hours involved in spontaneous Raman imaging. The goal of this project is to develop a bench-top multimodal coherent Raman imaging platform using two femtosecond pulsed laser beams. The ultimate objective is to develop a technique to rapidly image boundaries between healthy and cancer tissue based on their biochemical differences. This ability to rapidly detect tumor margins that are otherwise invisible to the eye, is extremely valuable for image-guided surgery.

    We are constructing a multimodal coherent Raman imaging platform based on a dual output femtosecond laser and a custom laser scanning microscope.

    Miniaturized, fiber-delivered portable probes for clinical translation

    There is an acute clinical need for minimally invasive optical molecular imaging probes for residual cancer detection at the time of surgery as well as for treatment monitoring. We are partnering with Dr. F. Leblond at Montreal polytechnic, Dr. B. Vanderhyden at U. Ottawa and Dr. L. Hopkins (surgeon) and Dr. J. M. Lage (pathologist) at the Ottawa Hospital to develop a portable Raman spectroscopy probe technique for the detection of ovarian cancer.


    Dr. Barbara Vanderhyden, the Corinne Boyer Chair in Ovarian Cancer Research, University of Ottawa.

    Dr. Hanan Anis and Dr. Robert Boyd, University of Ottawa.

    Dr. Brian Wilson, Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto and the Princess Margaret Cancer Center, Toronto.

    Dr. Vinita Chauhan, Dr. Sami Qutob and Dr. Ruth Wilkins in the Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection.

    Dr. Balazs Nyiri, Medical Physicist at the Ottawa Hospital.

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