Medical and molecular diagnostics

In order to be able to detect an illness and to provide optimal treatment, diagnostic solutions are essential for clinical applications. At the Fraunhofer IPT, we use different approaches to develop novel diagnostic solutions using imaging and lab-on-a-chip technologies.

Bio-analytical systems

Bioanalytical systems are complex, highly integrated combinations of sensor systems, signal processing and evaluation as well as peripheral components. They incorporate micro-fluidic, electronic, optical and biochemical functions in the smallest of spaces. Examples of these are the lab-on-a-chip- or lab-on-disk systems used to analyze water or to perform a PCR (polymerase chain reaction). The Fraunhofer IPT is involved in the development of bio-analytical systems, ranging from prototype to mass production. Systems can be produced using micro-machining, plastic injection molding or sheet material machining operations. In some cases, chemical surface functionalization such as the immobilization of antibodies or the application of SMD components or positioning of traces on printed circuit boards is achievable.  

Optical coherence tomography in diagnostics

By virtue of their high resolution and high measuring speed, customized measuring systems for optical coherence tomography (OCT) can provide significant added value in medical diagnostics. In addition to established processes such as Spectral Domain OCT  (SD-OCT) new technologies such as Swept Source OCT (SS-OCT) and extended OCT measuring processes such as Polarization-Sensitive OCT (PS-OCT) are all part of the engineering portfolio of the Fraunhofer IPT. In order to widen the scope of optical coherence tomography to make it accessible to new areas of medicine, the Fraunhofer IPT is developing application-oriented measuring strategies. Miniaturized and fiber-based systems promise savings in terms of time and cost in comparison with the technology currently used in minimally-invasive medicine. The range of services is complemented by imaging and presentation of the image data adapted to the application in hand.

Rapid 2D and 3D microscopy for biological compounds

Microscopic methods are generally used to characterize biological cell and tissue samples. However, the process of obtaining microscopic images for use in examining large-scale compounds is extremely time-consuming. The Fraunhofer IPT has developed a high-throughput method of fluorescence microscopy which enables entire, extensive areas of a sample, such as adherent cells in microtiter plates, to be examined rapidly. On this basis, we are currently developing multi-modal imaging, which combines light sheet and full field optical coherence microscopy for 3D cell cultures and organoids. This also permits pathological compounds to be digitalized rapidly in high resolution. Instead of procuring new and expensive slide scanners, existing microscopes can be upgraded cost-efficiently and users benefit from the availability of a high through-put slide scanner with the full flexibility of the microscope.