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Our programmes include research into biosensing technologies and the maintenance of capability in optical, electrical and acoustic sensing of biologically significant quantities. Research into optical methods centres on polarisation changes on active surfaces for a range of rapid, parallel detection applications including microarray analysis. Expertise in electrical and acoustic biosensing is built on strong capability in signal processing with an emphasis on the estimation of biosignals in difficult conditions. Our capability spans sensor development, and signal processing and classification.

Ellipsometry for biomedical and other applications

Ellipsometry is an optical technology that measures changes in the polarisation of light induced by changes in the presence or conformation of molecules at a surface. We are developing ellipsometry as a highly-sensitive technology for biomedical applications. This technology is based on the microarray, which consists of a large number of discrete micro-spots of diagnostic target molecules immobilised on a surface.

Methods utilising imaging ellipsometry are being developed for rapid, parallel detection of the specific binding of biological molecules to target molecules arrayed on a surface. For example, the nature of the binding of a disease-indicating antigen from a solution to an antibody immobilised on a surface is used to determine the presence and concentration of the antigen in a diagnostic sample.

This multidisciplinary capability extends beyond Industrial Research, through collaborations with other New Zealand-based researchers with expertise in genomics, proteomics and optical instrumentation.

We also utilise our expertise in high-precision, spectroscopic and imaging ellipsometry for characterising surfaces and thin films.

Bio-signal monitoring

We are actively researching technologies for improved electrical and acoustic sensors for biological signals. Developments have supported acoustic sensing of foetal heartbeat and have concentrated on simultaneously high signal integrity and ease of use (read about our handheld foetal heartbeat monitor).  Ongoing work includes a focus on providing non-contact sensors suitable for simple portable medical devices.