Hatice Altug awarded an ERC Proof of Concept Grant

Hatice Altug© 2019 EPFL

Hatice Altug© 2019 EPFL

Hatice Altug, head of the BIOnanophotonic Systems laboratory has been awarded an ERC PoC Grant for her project: “Portable infrared biochemical sensor enabled by pixelated dielectric metasurfaces”

Mid-infrared spectroscopy is considered gold standard in bio-chemical analysis for both research and industry applications, providing chemical specificity, as well as a label-free and non-destructive way of accessing molecular structure on a wide range of samples. Currently available infrared (IR) sensor techniques rely on bulky and expensive Fourier transform infrared spectrometers or tunable light sources, which severely limits their use in field and practical applications.

Therefore, there is a clear need for new optical sensing technologies capable of bringing the power of IR spectroscopy to miniaturized sensor devices at the point of care, which opens new business opportunities. The proposed ERC Proof of Concept project aims to realize a portable spectroscopic biochemical sensor by leveraging the nanophotonic technology invented recently in Hatice’s lab, and enabled by pixelated dielectric metasurfaces.

The researchers will validate their sensor device for use with relevant biochemical samples related to medical diagnostics, food safety and environmental monitoring, and will integrate it into a technology demonstrator for testing of these compounds in the field. The proposed spectroscopic sensor operates at much lower cost and in a more compact footprint compared to the current state-of-the art, opening up new application areas where no current point-of-care devices exist.

PoC grants

ERC Grants are given by the European research council. Proof of Concept (PoC) grants aim to help researchers explore the commercial or societal potential of their work. They can be used in various ways, for example to explore business opportunities, prepare patent applications or verify the practical viability of scientific concepts.