The global Covid-19 pandemic has been hugely disruptive to our personal and professional lives. As we move into the recovery phase there are many new opportunities emerging within the numerous adjustments we are making. The panel will discuss the emerging changes to markets and ways of working and the opportunities they present for photonics, taking questions from the online audience.
To unlock the massive economic and clinical potential of the biophotonics research field several barriers to market must be overcome. The National Centre for Healthcare Photonics, set up in 2018 at NETPark, UK, is an £18 million centre dedicated to supporting companies of all sizes in translating research into commercial products. This presentation will detail case studies demonstrating effective partnerships between local companies, non-governmental organisations and universities to bring healthcare products utilising photonics to market more effectively.
A dedicated project, Spotlight, funded by the ERDF, provides healthcare photonics SMEs and start-ups with funded support including staff time from Durham University and the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), an organisation specialising in supporting the development of next-generation manufacturing organisations. Examples of support that Spotlight offers include:
- access to lab space and state-of-the-art research facilities;
- proof-of-concept research;
- system design, prototyping and validation activity;
- manufacture of equipment for clinical investigation;
- regulatory compliance support;
- health economics modelling
- commercialisation support;
- pathways to generating clinical evidence.
Typically, the SMEs that partner with Spotlight have expertise in several areas and research fields but lack either photonics expertise or access to photonics equipment and do not have the scale or resources to obtain these feasibly. We will present examples of SMEs that have received assistance from Spotlight to enable commercial translation of research. Examples are taken at different stages of product development and different biophotonics technologies and demonstrate the success of interdisciplinary academic-industry partnerships in translating research to market.
Materials and techniques for manufacturing replicated micro- optical elements are reviewed. Factors such as choice of material, changes in physical dimensions, feature size and cost are considered. The manufacture of a 1.5 micrometers period radial grating for a rotation encoder is described. Replicas of the grating were made from the same Ni shim by reel-to- reel UV embossing, CD injection molding and flat bed hot embossing. The dimensions of the replica parts were measured and compared. The diffraction efficiency of the UV embossed replicas was found to be only slightly less than the theoretical maximum efficiency.
Asymmetric Fabry-Perot (AFP) reflection modulators containing thin film electro-optic polymeric materials are described and designed for operation at a low drive voltage. Prototype device structures have been fabricated using a crosslinked electro-optic polymer, optical modulation of 43% has been obtained at an operation wavelength of 633 nm and at a rms drive voltage of 88 V. A 4 X 4 array of devices has also been fabricated and characterized. The uniformity of the array was evaluated and a contrast ratio exceeding 5:1 can be obtained simultaneously at each of the 16 device positions.