UCI scientists make X-ray vision-like camera to rapidly retrieve 3D images

By: Lucas Van Wyk Joel

Photo by: Dmitry Fishman, Eric Potma, David Knez / UCI

Tech can visualize various materials, structures with detailed chemical information

Irvine, Calif., July 21, 2021 — It’s not exactly X-ray vision, but it’s close. In research published in the journal Optica, University of California, Irvine researchers describe a new type of camera technology that, when aimed at an object, can rapidly retrieve 3D images, displaying its chemical content down to the micrometer scale. The new tech promises to help companies inspect things like the insides of computer chips without having to pry them open — an advancement the researchers say could accelerate the production time of such goods by more than a hundred times.

“This is a paper about a way to visualize things in 3D very fast, even at video rate,” said Dmitry Fishman – director of laser spectroscopy labs in the UCI Department of Chemistry –  who, along with Eric Potma, professor of chemistry, spearheaded the work. The novel imaging tech is based on a so-called nonlinear optical effect in silicon – a semiconductor material used in visible-light cameras and detectors.

Through such a nonlinear optical effect, conventional silicon detectors can sense light coming from the mid-infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The reason being, Fishman explained, is that the mid-infrared spectral region carries important information on the material’s chemical make-up. “Most molecular vibrations and signatures are in the mid-infrared range,” he said.

Other technologies, he explained, are slow to retrieve images, because the laser light needs to scan across the object – a process that takes a longer amount of time. “A nonlinear optical ‘trick’ with short laser pulses allowed us to capture a depth-resolved image on a camera in one shot, thus providing an alternative method to what other people are doing – and the advance is that this is not just faster, but also produces 3D images with chemical contrast,” Fishman said.

And the imaging technology isn’t just for computer chips. Potma explained that the system can also image things like ceramics used to make things like heat shield plates on space shuttles and reveal clues about any structural weaknesses that might be there.

The research follows in the wake of work by Potma and Fishman and a team of researchers published last year in Nature’s Light: Science & Applications that describes the first steps toward creating efficient mid-infrared detection technology using off-the-shelf silicon-based cameras. Back then, the technology was just beginning to take shape, but now, Fishman explained, it’s getting close to being ready for the mainstream. “This time we made it much more efficient and better,” he said.

Funding for the work came from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The work was done in collaboration between UCI scientists and Yong Chen, a professor in the Epstein Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering at the University of Southern California.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

Media access: Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UCI faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UCI news, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists.

Click here to read the full article on the UCI News website.

Karthik Prasad, 2021 ASLMS Research Grant Recipient

The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) Announces the 2021 Student Research Grant Recipients

ASLMS supports research projects designed to foster the development and use of lasers and other related technologies in medical and surgical applications.  This year, Karthik Prasad, a medical student at the UCI Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic, under the support of ASLMS member and BLIMC faculty Dr. Brian Wong, has received an ASLMS 2021 Student Research Grant for his research “Multimodal Optical Characterization of Electromechanical Corneal Reshaping.”

For more information, please click here.

Standout Teams in I-Corps Program Conduct Market Research for their Technologies

By: Jackie Connor

Photo by: UCI Beall Applied Innovation

It’s no secret that conducting market research to develop a technology or potential startup has been more difficult as of late. Despite the changes caused by the coronavirus, UCI Beall Applied Innovation’s I-Corps program has helped UC Irvine innovators to continue their path toward commercialization in a safe and healthy way.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the I-Corps program is a market discovery program that leads campus innovators through an immersive learning process. Within the program’s market discovery component, teams have interviewed their potential client base via Zoom and phone calls.

At UCI’s Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic, a team of innovators designed a UCI technology called coherent spatial imaging (CSI), or a compact, wearable sensor that combines continuous blood flow and oxygenation measurements to estimate metabolism. The team’s goal is to include measurements, such as blood flow and metabolism, as part of a clinician’s vital assessment to understand more details about a patient.

Click here to read the full article on the UCI Beall Applied Innovation website.

StyloSonic wins Life Sciences Track of the 2021 UCI New Venture Competition

During the 2021 17th annual UCI New Venture Competition, Stylosonic, a miniaturized handpiece that uses ultrasound/photoacoustic imaging to assist dentists and periodontists in accurately diagnosing gingivitis in the early stage and reducing the rate of advanced gum disease, won the Life Sciences track.

The Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the UCI Paul Merage School of Business hosts the annual New Venture Competition. This 7-month long entrepreneurship program is dedicated to cultivating the entrepreneurial mindset and launching student startups in the Orange County area.

The 2021 competition, sporting nearly $100,000 in cash and in prizes, followed a competitive 85 concept submissions and 54 semi-finalists. During the Finale, the top two of each of the five tracks competed for Grand Prize in a 3-minute fast-pitch, facing a panel of distinguished judges from Orange County’s startup ecosystem.

Click here to learn more about the UCI New Venture Competition.

Yama Akbari promoted to Associate Professor

Dr. Yama Akbari of UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic was promoted to associate professor of neurology and neurological surgery.  As a critical care neurologist and neuroscientist, Akbari specializes in neuro-critical care, caring for patients in the UCI Health Neuro-Intensive Care Unit (Neuro-ICU).

On campus, Akbari and his laboratory team study consciousness, coma and cardiac arrest and resuscitation.  The goal of this research is to improve our understanding of consciousness and coma due to various types of acute brain injury, as well as improving resuscitation maneuvers for the treatment of cardiac arrest – all efforts to protect the brain.

Akbari has made significant contributions as a UCI clinician-scientist, having established the first cardiac arrest and resuscitation laboratory on campus.  “As the only cardiac arrest laboratory in the western U.S., we consult with others across the country,” stated Akbari, “We have a unique opportunity to mimic what happens in a hospital setting and study how everything in the body is connected.”

Akbari’s laboratory mimics an ICU to optimize translational potential, thus incorporating multimodal monitoring with neurophysiology, cardiac and pulmonary physiology and signal processing of brain connectivity.  In collaboration with other researchers at UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic, he has broadened his multimodal platform to include advanced optical imaging of cerebral blood flow and brain metabolism during cardiac arrest and resuscitation.

Research collaborator Dr. Bernard Choi, associate director of UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic and professor of biomedical engineering and surgery, explains that Akbari is keenly interested in the integration of noninvasive optical technologies to monitor blood flow and oxygen utilization in the brain.  This information helps in identifying patients who are at high risk for major neurological events, such as ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.

“Dr. Akbari provides a critically important clinical perspective on the role that new medical devices can play in saving the lives of patients who suffer from cardiac arrest and other cerebrovascular maladies,” stated Choi, “He is an outstanding clinical-scientist who is committed to improving the long-term outcomes of patients in the neuro-ICU.”

Along with caring for critically ill patients and conducting laboratory research, Akbari teaches undergraduate, graduate and medical students, as well as residents and clinical fellows.

“I enjoy my interactions with Dr. Akbari – he is passionate about his work and extremely knowledgeable on both the clinical and engineering aspects of his research endeavors,” said Choi, “He approaches his research with creativity and enthusiasm, and he is always willing to educate and support the trainees who work with him.”

“There are both scientific and emotional aspects of being both a researcher and physician,” said Akbari, “I take caring for my patients very seriously and I feel honored to be able to impact their lives.”

Akbari earned a B.S. in psychobiology from UCLA, followed by a combined M.D. and Ph.D. at UCI.  His Ph.D. studies focused on molecular neuroscience in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior.  He completed a neurology residency at UCLA, followed by a 2-year neurocritical care fellowship at Johns Hopkins University.  In 2012, Akbari returned to UCI as a tenure-track physician and scientist.

Click here to learn more about the Akbari Lab.

Michael Berns elected British Royal Society of Medicine Fellow

UCI professor of cell biology follows in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, Edward Jenner and Sigmund Freud among many other of the world’s most eminent scientists

Among numerous prestigious scientists and physicians, Michael Berns, cofounder and founding director of UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic, has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine in the United Kingdom.

“I am truly honored to be invited to join the Royal Society, especially because it’s the same society that has honored so many elite luminaries of the past,” said Berns.

Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society of Medicine are elected for life through a peer review process on the basis of excellence in science.  The Society’s 200-year-old history has seen prominent figures in medicine and science as part of its membership and governance.  Famous Fellows include Charles DarwinLouis PasteurEdward Jenner and Sigmund Freud.  Elected Fellows of the British Royal Society of Medicine are comparable to members of the National Academy of Medicine in the United States.

The Society is a leading provider of high quality continuing postgraduate education and learning to the medical profession.  The mission of the organization is to advance health, through education and innovation.

The Royal Society of Medicine was founded in 1805 as the Medical and Chirurgical Society of London.  In 1834, the Society was granted a Royal Charter by King William IV and was renamed, becoming the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society.  In 1907, the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London merged with 15 specialist medical societies and, with a supplementary Royal Charter granted by Edward VII, the Royal Society of Medicine was born.

The organization hosts scientific symposia and training courses, as well as public information and discussion events.  In addition, the Society operates one of the largest medical libraries in the world with approximately 600,000 volumes and 12,000 journals. 

Berns was invited to join the Royal Society of Medicine based on his extensive biomedical optics contributions in the fields of biology and medicine. In addition to the Royal Society of Medicine, Berns is a Fellow of the British Royal Society of Biology and the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters. In the United States, Berns is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the International Society of Optics and Photonics (SPIE). 

“I am grateful to UCI and the Beckman Laser Institute for all the support in encouraging my career development in biomedical optics during the last 50 years,” stated Berns.

In 1994, Berns received the UCI Medal.  In 2011, he was honored with the Fariborz Maseeh Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award from the UCI Henry Samueli School of Engineering.

Learn more about Michael Berns and the British Royal Society of Medicine.

SSIHI Pilot Studies Program

By: Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute

The Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute (SSIHI) Pilot Studies Awards are designed to support exceptionally innovative research projects that provide an understanding of the mechanistic basis or clinical outcomes related to integrative health therapies. This program encourages early exploration of research ideas from UCI and UCI-affiliated faculty members which have the potential to create or contribute to the evidence base of integrative health. We had a large number of applications for this award and appreciate the partnership with ICTS in the application review process.

Congratulations to the following pilot award recipients:

  • Yama Akbari, MD, PhD (lead PI)
  • Robert Wilson, PhD (co-PI)

The Role Of Ketones In Protecting The Brain And Heart During Ultra-Short Caloric Restriction

550,000 people in the U.S. suffer from cardiac arrest (CA) each year. Only ~175,000 survive CA and only ~17,500 of survivors have good outcomes because survivors often develop severe neurological deficits. While coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common cause of sudden CA, a multitude of other factors also may cause and/or contribute to such circulatory failure. Non- CAD mechanisms of CA include respiratory failure, hemorrhagic shock, inherited and acquired cardiomyopathies, toxic-metabolic insults, drug overdose, and other causes. Only ~175,000 survive CA and only ~17,500 of survivors have good outcomes because survivors often develop severe neurological deficits. Thus, there is a strong need for development of novel treatments to improve survival and outcome for CA patients, including both cardioprotection and neuroprotection.

For almost a century, caloric restriction (CR) has been shown to have numerous health benefits in humans and animals. CR, defined as reduction in calorie intake, can involve daily, lifelong adherence to strict diet or intermittent fasting. Most CR research has focused on long-term (chronic) CR, adherence to which can be challenging. Thus, there is significant clinical interest in short-term CR, which can last from days to months and has also been shown to have numerous neuroprotective and cardioprotective benefits.

Read the full article on the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute website.

Best Vitamins and Supplements for a Full, Healthy Head of Hair

By: David McGlynn, Men’s Health

So your hair isn’t what it used to be. Maybe your forehead is a little higher, the crown a little thinner. Though male baldness is common—two thirds of men shed at least some of their hair by the time they hit 35—the reasons for it are varied. In addition to genetics, hair loss results from certain diseases, meds, infections, radiation, toxins, and stress. And in some parts of the world, nutritional diseases and vitamin deficiencies can also cause hair to fall out.

Serious vitamin deficits are rare among American men, but scientists have begun to explore whether supplements might slow the rate of hair loss or even help hair grow back. “Though we’ve yet to see large, randomized clinical trials to show that vitamins aid hair growth, a number of smaller studies have shown some results,” says Men’s Health advisor and dermatologist Adnan Nasir, M.D.

The supplements market is awash with products promising to thicken your mane, and vitamins alone aren’t likely to work as well as the prescription treatments or procedures.

What that in mind, we dug into the scientific research to see which vitamins and minerals might be worth checking out. And while you’re looking around, we checked into the most common supplements containing numerous vitamins, herbs, minerals and other natural compounds for hair loss—ones often lumped under the term “nutraceuticals”—for you, too.

Read the full article on the Men’s Health website.

Click here to read UCI , Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine research study.

New Spectral Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Method Developed for Investigating Live Cells

UC Irvine biomedical engineering researchers have developed a new fast, robust microscopy imaging technique that could better capture detailed and precise information of cellular processes, such as characterizing migrating cancer cells. The technique combines two broadly applied microscopy methods – spectral imaging and fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) – by developing a true parallel detection system for simultaneous measurements that can be processed in real time.

Led by Enrico Gratton, Distinguished Professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics at the Samueli School of Engineering, the team published their research in the April 15, 2021, issue of Nature Methods.

“This new technique works on live cells; there is no need for fixation,” said Gratton. “We believe the information we obtain could be augmented by genomic and proteomics data. More importantly, Phasor S-FLIM can provide results in tissues that are difficult to measure using these omics approaches. This would be a new paradigm for researchers who are using advanced imaging to solve hard-to-investigate living cells and gain important insights on human health.”

The new fluorescence microscopy method uses the color properties and emission duration of fluorescent dyes to achieve high specificity and sensitivity in imaging living cells. It is an extremely valuable tool in biomedical research as most of today’s microscopes rarely obtain emission spectrum and fluorescence lifetime, and only a handful can do it on the same microscope. This process is, however, very slow and requires high power for illumination, greatly limiting the acquisition speed and damaging the sample.

Read the full article on the UCI Samueli School of Engineering website.

Clinical Publication showcase Modulim’s breakthrough imaging technology

“Quantifying dermal microcirculatory changes of neuropathic and neuroischemic diabetic foot ulcers
using spatial frequency domain imaging: a shade of things to come?,” was recently published in BMJ
Open Diabetes & Res Care. The clinical publication showcases how spatial frequency domain imaging
(SFDI) technology helped to identify a foot ulcer three months prior to the ulcer having breached the
skin surface.

Modulim, a company hosted in UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic’s Photonic Incubator,
delivers transformative optical solutions that help people live healthier, longer lives. Modulim’s Clarifi
Imaging System, powered by SFDI, helps clinicians identify compromised circulation at the point of care
through non-contact rapid microvascular assessment of tissue. Clinicians and healthcare systems are
empowered by SFDI images to make proactive, data-driven decisions in a multidisciplinary care setting,
in order to reduce lower-limb complications caused by diabetes, kidney disease and peripheral arterial

The following video reveals the physiology of diabetic complication and how Clarifi powered by SFDI can
help identify pre-ulcerative conditions early.

Clarifi — SFDI Powering Value-Based Care on Vimeo

Founded by Institute alumnus and current chief technology officer, David Cuccia, Modulim is based in
Irvine with a team dedicated to delivering powerful healthcare solutions that elevate and standardize
health care delivery, while improving patient outcomes. Modulim received CE mark for the Clarifi
Imaging System. The company has placed multiple units at podiatry, dialysis and vascular clinics.

Click here to learn more about Modulim.