EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships - University of St Andrews and M Squared Lasers

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A short video on the new Prosperity Partnership project between University of St Andrews and M Squared Lasers.

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I am Kishan Dholakia at the University of St Andrews and I’m teaming up with M Squared Lasers to exploit the science of light, the applications in healthcare and also laser measurement that will help the UK economy.

M Squared Lasers historically have a strong interaction with the University of St Andrews with myself and other colleagues, we’ve iterated towards a point where they’ve been very excited by some of the breakthroughs we’ve seen in the laboratory and they’ve identified markets and opportunities to expand as a business. One of the biggest challenges for the 21st century is imaging and understanding the brain. We’ve developed a method called Light Sheet Imaging which is a imaging modality that uses light that is really gentle and allows wide field imaging over long periods of time.  That’s a very exciting breakthrough which could help us answer some incredible questions for the brain and understanding diseases of the mind.

Another great example was the food and drink industry and what we’ve been able to do is shine light for example at whiskey. Of course we live in a time when we can have counterfeit drinks and drugs and that light scattering fingerprint can give us a unique signature of that whiskey without basically wasting a drop. So here we have six whiskeys in front of us I’m just going to pick one, I’m just going to insert it into the device there we go, not taking the lid off. I’m now going to shine the light through it, on the screen we see the spectrum or the fingerprint of the whiskey on the left and the software tells me I have inserted a Balvenie 12 year old and if we look down here at the piece of paper yes we can see the computers correctly identified the whiskey so yes, that one’s good to go.

Whiskey is one example but of course we could take it to other examples in the food and drink industry, olive oil, other drinks as well so it’s an open door for us to see where our applications can take us. Imagine shining a laser pointer through cello tape, it gives you a speckled pattern and that speckled pattern is rich in information. Lasers are used everywhere in measurement and what we’d like to do is understand what’s the laser wavelength? Where’s it pointing? And also to stabilise and stop the laser drifting. Most people use gas cells but here we’ve developed a method using the interference of light, what we’d like to do is actually use it to sense for example biomedical compounds or molecular compounds exquisitely just using light and that’s an untouched area that I think can open up a really exciting new market.

The excitement for the University of St Andrews partnering with M Squared Lasers is a speed and focus with which we can bring things to the marketplace with an agility that I think wouldn’t be found with other collaborations. For me that’s very exciting to see academic breakthroughs make a great impact for societal challenges as quickly as possible.