Light and photonics are poised to become the key enabling technologies of the future
The UN General Assembly has announced 2015 is the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL 2015).
Each year, the United Nations (UN) selects initiatives to stimulate interest and action in regards to important worldwide issues. With IYL 2015, the UN hopes to promote public understanding and raise awareness of the benefits of light-based technologies, and 'highlight' how these technologies solve global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health.
In selecting light technology as a cornerstone of IYL 2015, the UN recognises how the world relies on optical and photonic techniques for sensing and measurement. The IYL Prospectus proclaims that 'light-based technologies directly respond to the needs of humankind', and explains that 'the spectrum of light from X-rays to infrared lasers provides technologies that underpin our lives, optical technologies have revolutionised medical diagnostics and treatment, and light and photonics are poised to become the key enabling technologies of the future'.
Users of the Growth Direct System from Rapid Micro Biosystems see the benefits of light technology firsthand, as imaging plays a central role in the system’s automated, non-destructive detection and enumeration capabilities.
As part of the detection and enumeration process in the Growth Direct, samples stored in the system’s two built-in incubators are automatically transferred to an imaging chamber at pre-defined time intervals. In that chamber, a blue light illuminates the cassette while a Charged-Coupled Device (CCD) imager captures the image of the cassette. The microbial colonies autofluoresce under the light, and the autofluorescence is captured by the imager. Robotics return the sample to the incubator where it continues incubation until the next imaging cycle.
The cassette images are interrogated by advanced software algorithms that compare the difference in the cassette images over time. This combination of light imaging and software allow the Growth Direct to start seeing growing colonies in hours, long before they are visible by the human eye. The light technology is a key component of the Growth Direct System’s detection and enumeration process. It provides companies test results in about half the time of traditional tests, and does not require the use of reagents. The light technology, in combination with the CCD imaging and software provides results without destruction of the sample, allowing companies to move quickly to an investigation.