Scientific Profile

The Technology Group Sensor Systems and System Integration pursues two tasks. On the one hand, it does research on new optical sensor concepts for medicine, health, environment and security and further develops established sensor concepts. Examples are:

  • research into novel, efficient illumination concepts in Raman spectroscopy for the rapid analysis of large tissue samples,
  • research into high-resolution 3D imaging methods for centimeter-sized samples,
  • the development and discussion of particularly compact confocal Raman micro-spectrometers with outstanding signal properties and
  • research into new approaches to multi-parameter diagnostics.

On the other hand, the technology group directly supports other Leibniz IPHT scientists and their partners with tailored solutions of optical and automated systems to aid their research. The rapid provision of tailored solutions supports research and enables to process even large sample quantities cost-effectively and reproducibly and thus achieve new qualities of results. Examples are:

  • optical imaging of organisms directly on the cryostat of a microtome with associated analysis software,
  • the development of a compact, portable confocal Raman microscope for Point-of-Care,
  • the construction of an automatic Raman sample scanner for 96-well plates,
  • advice on questions relating to optical system design and
  • support with the duplication and transfer of laboratory setups to relevant research environments.

Due to the close contact to scientists of the Leibniz IPHT and their partners, the technology group is entrusted with a growing number of tasks and interesting questions and can therefore always offer interesting topics for theses in the fields of physics, applied physics, photonics, optical engineering, physical chemistry or comparable disciplines.

Research Topics

  • 3D imaging method for large samples
  • POC Raman
  • Light-sheet Raman microspectroscopy
    • Label-free, multimolecular interaction assays

3D imaging method for large samples

High-resolution imaging of centimeter-sized and thick samples is a challenge as light can hardly penetrate them. Layer-by-layer ablation in combination with systematic 2D imaging can be a solution for optically and mechanically heterogeneous material [1]. However, a strong background of defocused light significantly reduces contrasts, especially in fluorescence microscopy. We are developing methods to suppress this background with the goal of cellular resolution in centimeter depth.

[1] Foo W, Wiede A, Bierwirth S, Heintzmann R, Press AT, Hauswald W. Automated multicolor mesoscopic imaging for the 3-dimensional reconstruction of fluorescent biomarker distribution in large tissue specimens. Biomed Opt Express. 2022;

Light-sheet Raman microspectroscopy

Confocal Raman microscopy is capable of producing label-free images with interesting bio-chemical contrasts. However, low scattering Raman cross-sections of the sample lead to exposure times in the range of seconds for individual pixels. We are developing efficient illumination concepts that will significantly speed up imaging [2].

[2] Hauswald W, Förster R, Popp J, Rainer Heintzmann. Thermal illumination limits in 3D Raman microscopy : A comparison of different sample illumination strategies to obtain maximum imaging speed. PLoS One. 2019;14: 1–17. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0220824

POC Raman

Various diagnostic assays are developed at Leibniz IPHT, which are read out by confocal Raman microscopes. However, since the size, stability and price of these instruments prevent a wide usage of assays, we develop specialized confocal Raman spectrometers with high signal quality that are compact, stable and transportable [3].

[3] Jahn IJ, Grjasnow A, John H, Weber K, Popp J, Hauswald W. Noise Sources and Requirements for Confocal Raman Spectrometers in Biosensor Applications. Sensors. 2021;21: 1–20. doi:10.3390/s21155067

Label-free, multimolecular interaction assays

A biosensor has the task of specifically and sensitively detecting biomolecules. In conventional approaches, selected target molecules are bound to complementary capture molecules and successful binding is indicated by additional labeling. However, this requires additional processing steps tailored to the application. In contrast, there are numerous label-free interaction assays, but these are often associated with compromises in detection properties. We have developed a novel diffractometric biosensor that does not require additional staining which can quantitatively read diffractive biosensor chips in parallel with its optical reading unit [4].

[4] to be published soon

Areas of application

Sensorsysteme und Systemintegration
  • Fluorescence 3D imaging of tissues or whole organisms to determine drug distribution, tumour boundaries and tissue damage due to infection
  • Rapid Raman 3D imaging of cultures, tissues or whole organisms for label-free chemical contrast generation
  • Mobile Raman measurements on single cells or bacteria for phenotypic identification and resistance detection
  • Biosensors for simultaneous and label-free detection of different biomolecules in complex environments for genotypic and phenotypic pathogen detection for food safety and environmental monitoring

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