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MICROMACHINED OPTOMECHANICAL DEVICES: looking at cells, tissues, and organs ... with a gentle touch

Objective

Every time we grab an object to look at its geometrical details or to feel if it is hard or soft, we are ineluctably confronted with the limits of our senses. Behind its appearances, the object may still hide information that, encrypted in its microscopic features, remains undetected to our macroscopic assessment. In life sciences, those limits are more than just frustrating: they are an obstacle to study and detect life threatening conditions. Many different instruments may overcome those limits, but the vast majority of them rely either on “sight” (optics) or “touch” (mechanics) separately. On the contrary, I believe that it is from the combination of those two “senses” that we have more chances to tackle the future challenges of cell biology, tissue engineering, and medical diagnosis.

Inspired by this tantalizing perspective, and supported by a technology that I have brought from blackboard to market, I have now designed a scientific program to breach into the microscopic scale via an unbeaten path. The program develops along three projects addressing the three most relevant scales in life sciences: cells, tissues, and organs. In the first project, I will design and test a new optomechanical probe to investigate how a prolonged mechanical load on a brain cell of a living animal may trigger alterations in its Central Nervous System. With the second project, I will develop an optomechanical tactile instrument that can assess how subsurface tissues deform in response to a mechanical stroke – a study that may change the way physicians look at tissue classification. For the third project, I will deliver an acousto-optical gas trace sensors so compact that can penetrate inside the lungs of an adult patient, where it could be used for early detection of pulmonary life threatening diseases. Each project represents an opportunity to open an entire new field, where optics and micromechanics are combined to extend our senses well beyond their natural limits.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/cell biology
  • /social sciences/economics and business/business and management/commerce
  • /medical and health sciences/basic medicine/neurology/stroke
  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/optics
  • /medical and health sciences/medical biotechnology/tissue engineering
  • /engineering and technology/environmental engineering/energy and fuels/fossil energy/gas

Call for proposal

ERC-2013-CoG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-CG - ERC Consolidator Grants

Host institution

STICHTING VU
Address
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Netherlands
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 999 221
Principal investigator
Davide Iannuzzi (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Bart Van Leijen (Dr.)

Beneficiaries (1)

STICHTING VU
Netherlands
EU contribution
€ 1 999 221
Address
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Davide Iannuzzi (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Bart Van Leijen (Dr.)