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SPIE Members among first round of 'Blue Ocean' open-innovation grant winners

01 November 2011

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- Several SPIE Members were among winners of Phase I Blue Ocean grants awarded last month by Ocean Optics.

The Blue Ocean program is a novel open-innovation program seeking optical sensing ideas and technologies with the potential to change the world for the better and with market commercialization potential, said Jason Eichenholz, Ocean Optics Chief Technology Officer and an SPIE Senior Member.

"These programs are helping us fulfill our mission to change the world for the better via optical sensing," Eichenholz, told SPIE this week. "The quantity and quality of the submitted proposals exceeded our wildest expectations, so much so that we expanded the program and have been able to fund two additional projects through sister companies inside the Halma group."

"SPIE joins the grant winners in thanking and congratulating Ocean Optics for organizing this successful experiment with the open-innovation model. The program funds R&D in a new way, connected to the market," said Andrew Brown, senior director of global business development at SPIE. "We are encouraged by this collaboration in which several SPIE members are producing applied research of interest to industry."

Ocean Optics is also collaborating with SPIE in presenting a panel of Blue Ocean grant winners at SPIE Photonics West in January. Panelists will discuss their entrepreneurial process and approaches to activities such as networking, training, and planning.

SPIE Members awarded Phase I grants of up to $10,000 for evaluation and development of ideas to the proof-of-concept phase include:

  • Jarkko Antila (VTT Technical Research Center of Finland), for a project to develop a novel MEMS-based mid-IR spectrometer for detection and analysis of various materials using a new MEMS-based tunable filter technology which can be adapted to a wavelength range of 4-14 µm.
  • Ioannis (John) Kymissis (Columbia Univ.), working with Nadia Pervez, for a project to develop a compact, low-cost, robust pH sensing system incorporating color-changing pH sensing material and a photonic crystal spectrometer, for applications where color filter techniques are inappropriate or inadequate and compact diffraction grating spectrometers are too large or expensive.
  • SPIE Fellow Guifang Li (CREOL/College of Optics and Photonics, Univ. of Central Florida), whose team is working on an optical counterpart of the RF super-heterodyne technology for broadband spectroscopy in the mid IR and into the long-wave IR.
  • Zhiwen Liu (Pennsylvania State Univ.). "We plan to develop a reflection-type G-Fresnel diffractive optical element that integrates the functionalities of dispersion and focusing in a single device, and can potentially lead to compact optical spectrometers," Liu said.<
  • Bill Parker (Creative Microsystems), for a project to enable spectroscopy with nanoliter volume samples by integrating a sample-handling microfluidic chip with a fiber optic spectrometer. "We believe the device will enable performing high precision absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy of the contents of samples as small as a single cell," Parker said.
  • SPIE Senior Member Scott Rowe (Ocular Prognostics). "We will use the grant to develop a product incorporating a miniature spectrometer that can obtain macular pigment measurements objectively and accurately in less than 30 seconds. This will augment our current development work towards a new generation of tools that will be highly valued by clinician and researcher alike," Rowe said.
  • Eric Seibel (Univ. of Washington), working with Liang Zhang. "We propose to develop an optical device to detect the early onset of tooth decay in young children based on endogenous chromophores. Fluorescence characteristics such as the ratio of multiple fluorescent bands or emission bandwidth may be the 'canary' for alerting the medical practitioner to the early stages of tooth demineralization," Zhang said.
  • Ian White (Univ. of Maryland). "We propose to develop inkjet-printed paper-based SERS dipsticks and swabs for onsite detection of chemicals and biomolecules," White said. The dipsticks will leverage the fluidic properties of cellulose to concentrate analyte molecules from large volume samples into the SERS detection region on the paper substrate.

SPIE Senior Member Kristen Maitland (Texas A&M Univ.) was one of seven winners of development grants, which enable the use of research equipment loaned or donated by Ocean Optics. Maitland's team is researching fast detection of spectrally encoded depth scans in confocal microscopy for early cancer detection. "We will be using the grant to increase our volumetric image acquisition speed in a chromatic confocal microscope," Maitland said.

Ocean Optics will award up to two Phase II grants of as much as $100,000 to further support the proposed technology through commercialization in early 2012, and another round of $10,000 Phase I proof-of-concept grants next year.

Recipients were chosen based on ability to change the world for the better, and for out-of-the-box thinking, technical merit, and potential commercial viability.

Grant committee members included Steve Anderson (SPIE), David Brady (Duke Univ.), Daniel Farkas (Spectral Molecular Imaging), Thomas Giallorenzi (OSA and Naval Research Labs), Bahaa Saleh (CREOL), and Andreas Tünnermann (Fraunhofer IOF).

See full abstracts on the award-winning ideas at blueoceangrants.com.

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 180,000 constituents from 168 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. SPIE provided over $2.3 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2010.

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