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Femtosecond temporally coherent programmable supercontinuum laser system for multiphoton microscopy

To create the first cost-effective product that integrates a coherent supercontinuum laser with a programmable ultrashort pulse management system for microscopy and imaging purposes, allowing to overcome current imaging barriers to massively deploy multiphoton excitation (mpe) technology.

Photonics play a vital role in the global economy and people well-being. According to the international society for optics and photonics (SPIE), the global market for photonic products and products enabled by photonics has reached $500 billion in 2015, where Europe takes up the second position. Moreover, it has recently been reported in an EU report that Photonics ‘impacts around 10% of the European economy’, with Europe accounting for over 20% of the global photonics market. In terms of laser products, fibre lasers have become the leading laser technology in terms of market share and revenue. This trend is set to continue in the coming years with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17% until 2020, while new applications with huge potential markets are bringing further paths to grow. Fibre lasers success is due to their better efficiency, beam quality, low-cost, compactness and ability to produce broadband high-powered short pulses. Nowadays there are many specific market creating and society evolving initiatives that are sustained and boosted by the use of Fibre Laser. Medical Diagnostics, and more specifically, Diagnostics Imaging (IMG) is the market sector whereby this project can have greater impact. Inside the IMG sector, the Life Science Microscopy, which represents close to a 29% (2.1 Billion €) of the IMG market (7 Billion €), will be the main niche. FemTeC-Pro focuses on microscopy for IMG due to a previous market analysis that followed criteria of market growth, market size, and the product mix competitive context (including pricing) within laser markets. This market analysis concluded that IMG market has the highest laser price with a relevant CAGR market growth (9%), which means a market opportunity with high margins. To penetrate the Microscopy-IMG market, FemTeC-Pro will offer an advanced tool for MPE technology (also referred to as non-linear, multiphoton, or two-photon laser scanning microscopy). MPE microscopy is based in molecular excitation by simultaneous absorption of two or more photons. It is an alternative to confocal and deconvolution microscopy that makes use of Femtosecond lasers (sub-4 fs to 100 fs) to provide distinct advantages for three-dimensional imaging. Femtosecond lasers provide broadband optical spectral, no heating of materials and smaller damage when interacting with tissues. These properties have relegated the use of other competing lasers (such as Picosecond lasers) to a testimonial role in microscopy applications. Particularly, MPE excitation excels at imaging of living cells, especially within intact tissues such as brain slices, embryos, whole organs, and even entire animals, which is not possible with any other non-invasive technique. More specifically, the benefits that make MPE microscopy particularly useful in medical diagnostics and in-vivo imaging are: reduced phototoxicity, increased tissue imaging depth, and ability to initiate localized photochemistry. For these reasons MPE is becoming a fundamental tool for Research and Diagnostics, as has been demonstrated in many fields, especially in brain diseases but also in neurobiology, cardiovascular research, obstetrics and gynaecology or oncology. To make use of MPE technology, the MPE system requires: an ultrafast laser (femtoseconds), a microscope and a compensation device (also known as pulse management system) that allows getting the laser properties intact in the plane of the sample. Taking into account the advantages of very short pulse duration, the potential of femtosecond lasers will open the possibility to new improvements in current used technologies (such as MPE microscopy) or new applications developed for the mass market, maximising the exploitation of their properties in industrial applications. Despite the encouraging scenario, there are still some unsolved challenges from the market and technology perspectives that FemTeC-Pro aims to overcome, mainly the following: high price, limited availability, low level of usability, low versatility and limited technical features. In this context, FemTeC-Pro project is born to offer an innovative solution to overcome the Microscopy-Diagnostics imaging barriers so that MPE Microscopy technology can be massively deployed. FemTeC-Pro aims to create the first cost-effective market-ready product that integrates a coherent supercontinuum laser (SCH) and a programmable ultrashort pulse management system (based on the d-scan technology, known as UPMS) in a single product for microscopy and imaging purposes. The results of the project will be a non-existing integrated solution for MPE microscopy users that improves its usability and robustness, increases 5 times its life-time, reduces costs in 66% and provides better photonic parameter specifications to boost the full-scale use of MPE technology.
Acronym: 
FEMTEC-PRO
Project ID: 
11 729
Start date: 
01-11-2017
Project Duration: 
24months
Project costs: 
870 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Medical devices technology (instrumentation, medical imaging, radiology)
Market Area: 
Medical imaging

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