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Dr. Benjamin Miller, Univ. of Rochester Medical Center

Applications of Integrated Photonic Sensors to COVID-19

December 3 (Thursday) 2020
11:30 am – 12:30 pm (EST)
Virtual via zoom

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Networks of DNA, RNA, proteins, and other molecules govern human health and disease, and our interactions with the outside world. This has become particularly apparent in recent months, as concepts of viral and antibody testing have become common conversation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to detect molecules of interest, measure their concentrations, and convert those measurements into data that can be accessed digitally, we need the appropriate interface: a sensor. Integrated photonics is a particularly attractive option for building broadly useful sensor platforms. Here, the light source, sensing mechanism, and detection system are all in the same plane. As such, integrated photonic sensors are small and simple enough that they could be incorporated into a cell phone, while robust enough for clinical and industrial analytical applications. Achieving the promise of integrated photonic sensing requires advances in chemistry, materials science, optics, and the fabrication technologies to make it all work “at scale”, in a format that can go beyond the laboratory and into the commercial sphere. For the past five years, we have worked with academic, industrial, and Department of Defense collaborators in partnership with the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics) to establish designs and manufacturing strategies for photonic chemical and biological sensors. AIM is a public-private partnership established to develop US manufacturing capability in photonics. This talk will detail progress in demonstrating AIM Photonics’ fabrication capabilities in chemical and biological sensing, with a particular focus on rapid assays for SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19 disease.

Dr. Prof. Benjamin L. Miller completed his undergraduate studies at Miami University (Ohio), receiving degrees in Chemistry (B.S.), Mathematics (A.B.), and German (A.B.) in 1988. He next moved to Stanford University, where he carried out his Ph. D. research in Chemistry under the direction of Paul Wender. Following a stint as an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Harvard in Stuart Schreiber’s laboratory, he joined the University of Rochester faculty in 1996, where he is currently Dean’s Professor of Dermatology, Biochemistry and Biophysics, Biomedical Engineering, and Optics. His group’s expertise in molecular recognition, combinatorial chemistry, nanotechnology, and optical sensing has been applied to the development of novel optical biosensor platforms, and synthetic compounds targeting RNAs involved in several human diseases. He is a Fellow of the OSA, AIMBE, and AAAS. Miller is a founder of Adarza BioSystems, Inc., a multiplex optical biodetection company located in St. Louis, MO. He is also the Academic Lead for Integrated Photonic Sensors in AIM Photonics.