European Project to develop biophotonics for Optical Screening

PET scan, CT and MRI are almost standard in today’s medical diagnostics. Laser-optical diagnosis methods are far less prevalent. Despite this some scientists claim that such optical methods are potentially more capable and less expensive. The multinational EU project Functional Anatomical Molecular Optical Screening (FAMOS) is aiming to prove this. At the basis of the project is the belief that in the future, examinations of surface tissues such as human skin, retina, and intestine, optical methods involving high-energy laser light could be the technique of choice. The project is based on OCT – optical coherence tomography – a key technology able to precisely display structures located a few millimeters inside the tissue. The approach being pursued uses white laser light that emerges when a special glass fiber is irradiated with a femto-second laser. As these lasers generate a lot of heat they need to be cooled with water. Thus, the current equipment is massive and is so complicated that it requires an expert to operate it. FAMOS is addressing these features by developing a semiconductor laser with very high beam quality. This light will then be frequency-doubled, thus bisecting the wavelength. This laser light will then be used to pump a femto-second titanium-sapphire laser, which will excite the white light OCT source. “If everything works out as planned, ambient air will be sufficient for cooling” says Dr Bernd Sumpf, head of the project. Thus, the equipment will shrink to a fifth of its current size and be portable and cost-efficient. The primary contact for FAMOS is Professor Wolfgang Drexler,Medical University of Vienna, FAMOS project: