By Amy Pollard (GRS ’19)
Boston University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty members continue to advance their respective fields of research. Recently, a discovery by Professor Michelle Sander (ECE, MSE), with a potential for profound impact on materials characterization, was featured on the front cover of the June edition of Analyst.
Professor Sander details her discovery in the article titled “Multiple bifurcations with signal enhancement in nonlinear mid-infrared thermal lens spectroscopy.” The article’s co-authors are Atcha Totachawattana (ECE PhD ’17), Mi K. Hong (Physics) and Professor Shyamsunder Erramilli (Physics, BME). Analyst is a bimonthly publication of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
The article introduces a new method that helps researchers more accurately identify chemical and molecular samples under a microscope. The method, called mid-infrared photothermal spectroscopy, uses long-wavelength infrared light to illuminate samples and expose vibrations of molecules such as stretching, bending or rotations to identify them. Each compound can be identified by its own unique combination of absorption peaks. These vibrations help researchers identify the molecule. Samples can range from chemical thin film samples to biological tissue samples. The method can offer strong signal enhancements, leading to better imaging contrast, which can be applied to analyze biological tissue without requiring any special fluorescent dyes or stains.
The research has several real-world applications. It can be applied to diagnose diseases, chemical sensing, monitor trace environmental chemicals and detect hazardous materials.
Professor Sander has received a number of prestigious honors and awards in the past, including the AFOSR Young Investigator Research Program Award, the BUnano Pilot Grant and the Dean’s Catalyst Award. Her areas of interest include femtosecond lasers, ultrafast photonics and spectroscopy. She earned her PhD degree from MIT in 2012.