10 November 2011

P4L promotes European Laboratory for Non-Linear Spectroscopy

Today the Network for Biophotonics Photonics4Life welcomes a new associated Partner. Former Local Cluster Partner LENS is promoted based on the merits and the very active participation of LENS in Photonics4Life and the P4L projects in particular.

LENS was established in 1991 with the goal of offering to the European scientific community an institution where new and advanced laser techniques and instrumentation are developed and applied indifferent fields of science and technology. LENS is a truly interdisciplinary research laboratory, the unifying character being that of employing the laser light for investigating matter under different aspects: from atomic physics to photochemistry, biochemistry and biophysics, from material science to photonics, from art restoration and preservation to solid and liquid state physics. Different state-of-the-art experimental techniques are applied and made available to the users: different setups for ultrafast spectroscopy; ultracold atom facilities; ultra-high pressure set-up; molecular beam machines; SNOM facilty; biophysics and biophotonics laboratory. Nowadays the Laboratory consists of about 25 scientific permanent staff members and 8 administrative and technical collaborators; about 35 post-doctoral fellows and PhD students complete the LENS team.

Main tasks of LENS

Three main tasks are at the basis of the LENS activity: a) develop and maintain a high level research activity in the field of laser investigation of matter; b) provide to the to the European scientific community an institution where new and advanced laser techniques and instrumentation are developed and applied in different fields of science and technology; c) train young European researchers at the PhD and post-doctoral level.

Biophotonics research at LENS

The aim of this research unit is the study of the biophysical properties of biomolecules (proteins and DNA) and cells interacting with the environment during a biological process. The use of manipulation tools (such as optical or magnetic tweezers) provides information not accessible with conventional methods. This allows original investigations on fundamental biochemical and cell biological processes, such as regulation of gene expression, transcription, muscle contraction, protein synthesis, virus infection, cell interaction, etc. The use of magneto-optical tweezers also allows a novel approach to the characterization of the physical properties of biopolymers. Our scientific research is focused both on single bio-molecules and more complex systems (i.e. cells, vesicles, viruses, etc.). We are also developing and utilizing microscopy techniques useful when high resolution and/or high sensitivity detection have to be achieved. On this purpose, we are applying non-linear microscopy, like two photons, lifetime imaging, and second harmonic generation, to study morpho-functional aspect in tissue imaging. Particular attention is devoted to imaging of neural tissue, skin, cornea, and internal organs like bladder. LENS has also a R&D lab within the clinics devoted to clinical applications.

Round Robin Experiment

Raman spectroscopy has already proved its effectiveness in many cases for medical diagnostics such as for cancer, cardiovascular diseases and infections. However, there are no standards in the different working groups, e.g. for sample preparation, implementation of the Raman experiments, spectra pre-treatment, data evaluation, etc.In a round robin experiment, the required groundwork will take place in order to define standardised Raman measurement methods, which will be fundamental for establishing Raman spectroscopy for clinical diagnostic procedures.

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