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Imaging projects for healthcare and environment awarded by Edmund Optics prize

High resolution optical imaging technology to image neuronal activation patterns, mid-infrared sensors for unmanned aerial vehicles, and a fluorescence imaging system used to observe cancer cells, are three of the winning projects as part of Edmund Optics’ 2014 Educational Award programme.

More than $85,000 USD in Edmund Optics (EO) products will be awarded to the gold, silver, and bronze winners in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, in support of their research. The EO award team evaluated over 880 applications to select 45 global finalists with applications ranging from developing a compact NIR-visible dual-channel fluorescence imaging system for image-guided cancer surgery to designing solutions to assess water quality using high resolution microscopy.

In the Americas, the gold award of $10,000 in EO products was awarded to Gang Yao from the University of Missouri for the development of a small and portable device which screens for neurodevelopmental disorders in young children based on dynamic pupillary light reflect (PLR). This completely non-invasive test, which eliminates the use of physical restraints on children, analyses the dynamic changes in pupil size in response to a short flash of light, and reveals extremely rich neurological information about the brain and is a critical tool for early diagnosis of autism in young children.

The silver award of $7,500 in EO products went to Irving Bigio from Boston University for the development of a minimally invasive, high resolution optical imaging technology, which does not require the use of voltage-sensitive dyes, to image neuronal activation patterns. Tracking the propagation of nerve impulses in brain tissue by imaging the changes in optical birefringence of the brain tissue is used to study and treat neuropathies such as epilepsy and stroke.

Colorado State University was awarded the bronze award of $5,000 in EO products. Azer Yalin submitted the application for the development of lightweight, mid-infrared sensors to be deployed on unmanned aerial vehicles, which will efficiently locate and quantify methane leaks, in real-time, from oil wells and pipelines playing a critical economic and environmental role.

In Europe the gold award of €7,000 in EO products went to Thomas Halfmann of Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany for work on optical memories for computing, while in Asia the gold award of $10,000 USD in EO products was awarded to Masahiro Motosuke from Tokyo University of Science for research into the advancement of micro-chips for detection of light scattering. This work contributes to the development of compact, portable flow cytometry systems designed for deployment in developing areas.

Norman Edmund Inspiration Award

In addition, Shahid Haider, from the University of Waterloo in Canada, has won the Norman Edmund Inspiration Award for developing a medical device that eases diabetes monitoring in children. He will receive $5,000 in product donation to further his research.

The medical device is a non-contact, handheld imaging system which simultaneously captures multiple polarisation states of the eye to infer a patient's blood glucose concentration. This avoids having to prick a finger to get an estimate of blood glucose levels.

Previously, to capture multiple polarisation states, filters had to be exchanged and the capture had to be sequential, but through the use of filter assemblies, corrective optics and manipulating optics, simultaneous capture is possible. Coupled with a high resolution detector, the images can be captured on a single detector allowing for a compact design to fit the hands of a child.

‘We continue to be amazed and impressed by the inventive use of optics in these highly technical, life-changing applications,’ commented Kirsten Bjork-Jones, director of global marketing communications at Edmund Optics. ‘It is very gratifying to contribute to and support these projects and the researchers dedicated to furthering the science of optical innovation.’

To learn more about the Educational Award recipients and their applications please visit

Related articles:

Imaging how proteins interact - Winner of Edmund Optics' 2013 Higher Education Global Grant Program for the Americas, Professor Simon Alford at the University of Illinois at Chicago explains his work on protein-protein interactions and the importance of the optical equipment from Edmund

Further information:

Educational Award


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