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Covid-19 update: 22 October 2020

22 Oct 2020

A round-up of this week's coronavirus-related news and countermeasures from the photonics industry.

Few sectors have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic more than healthcare. In particular, some new healthcare delivery trends that were developing before the outbreak have accelerated noticeably since the virus began to spread, according to a new perspective paper, published in SPIE’s Journal of Biomedical Optics.

In the paper, Darren Roblyer, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University, MA, outlines the accelerating shift toward wearable technologies and remote monitoring techniques since the start of the pandemic, many of which rely on optical technologies. Roblyer examines the potentially large role biomedical optics technology plays in the rapidly-changing healthcare and research landscape.

“The biomedical optics community has the unique opportunity to develop new remote and wearable optical technologies to meet the changing needs of increasingly at-home healthcare delivery systems, ” he said. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) combines the use of medical devices and information technology to communicate health data to a healthcare provider without in-person contact.

RPM includes telemedicine, which together allows healthcare providers to communicate safely with their patients while tracking their health using data from wearable and other portable monitoring technologies. Popular devices such as the Apple Watch and Fitbit are examples of wearable monitors, but similar devices include digital stethoscopes, mobility trackers, and electrocardiograms.

Mass-spectrometry breakthrough paves way to detecting viruses

Targeting analysis of biological particles with large aspect ratios, such as viruses or fibrils, scientists at France-based research agency CEA have demonstrated a breakthrough in single-particle mass spectrometry, which the scientists say could “fast track the detection of viral particles in hospitals, offices, airplanes and other public places.”

Nano-electromechanical sensors measure the mass of nano-objects inaccessible to conventional mass-spectrometry. They can be used to characterize synthetic or natural nanoparticles, such as viruses. Until now, the sensors’ electrical mode of detection restricted both the precision and speed of analysis and would only take into account spherical particles.

The CEA team, with the expertise of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), overcame this hurdle by developing novel mass sensors and was the first to demonstrate MS measurement of individual nanoparticles by optomechanical detection.

The researchers used light waves to enable new sensor geometries, leading to better speed and analytical performance. Interaction with the sensor is performed with optical signals instead of electrical signals, which provides a 10k improvement in motion sensitivity.

The results of the work were published in a paper titled “Optomechanical Mass Spectrometry” in Nature Communications.

“This demonstration of on-chip optomechanics as a superior alternative to electromechanical resonators for high-resolution, single-particle mass spectrometry paves the way to the analysis of viruses regardless of their shape, rigidity or position,” said Sebastien Hentz, director of research at CEA-Leti. “The capture area is 10 times larger than existing MS sensors, which translates into faster and more accurate analysis.”

“Building on our demonstration of a proof of concept of mass detection in this highly challenging mass range, we are now working toward the development of a new optomechanical mass spectrometer desktop prototype that could detect and characterize airborne viral particles of any shape,” Hentz added. “For this purpose, our photonics-derived fabrication process is easily amenable to the multiplexing of a large number of resonators using standard wavelength-division multiplexing and packaging techniques.”

UV-C technology integrated in mask deactivates viruses

In cooperation with SGS laboratory, UM Systems, the company behind the world's first antiviral face mask with a patented Sterile-Vortex active UV-C sterilization that purifies the air as the wearer breathes, have conducted a test to validate the effectiveness of UV-C technology used for UVMask on the inactivation of H1N1 influenza virus.

Featuring the most powerful, ozone-free UV-C sterilization technology on the market, the world's first antiviral and anti-pollution face mask provides 8-hours of complete daily protection on a single charge and eliminates >99.9% of airborne pathogens.

A newly-published SGS report (October, 2020) validates the effectiveness of UM Systems' Sterile-Vortex in UVMask on deactivating H1N1, the virus that caused the 2009 swine flu pandemic, in just 0.08 seconds.

“Being the first active UV-C antiviral mask on the market, we are very thrilled about the exciting lab result of 0.08 seconds, a mere one-twelfth of a second. The current test results show that the virus was completely inactivated in a blink of an eye," commented Boz Zou, CEO of UM Systems.

These initial findings suggest that UVMask is also effective against airborne viruses, including Sars-Cov-2, the novel coronavirus that's responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic, as the dosage to inactivate the Sars-Cov-2 virus is similar to that of the H1N1 influenza virus.

OFC postponed to 6-10 June, 2021

The organizers of OFC 2021, the telecom and data center optics expo, have announced that next year’s event will now take place 6 – 10, June 2021 at the Moscone Center, San Francisco, California, USA. The exhibition will be held 8 – 10, June 2021.

The conference, originally planned for 28 March – 1 April 2021 in San Francisco, has rescheduled its dates to ensure a successful conference and exhibition experience for all participants, while also taking into consideration the health and safety of attendees and exhibitors.

“Since the 2020 conference and exhibition occurred, OFC’s co-sponsors, Steering Committee and Program Chairs have been meeting regularly to ascertain the likely impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the event,” said OFC 2021 Steering Committee Chair, Seb Savory, of the IEEE/Photonics Society, and University of Cambridge, UK.

“After careful consideration, having consulted various stakeholders, it became clear that the best solution at this point in time, was to shift the timing of OFC, from March to June. By moving the event to these new dates, we not only increase the likelihood that we will be able meet together in person and so able to enjoy both the usual onsite programming and exhibits, but it also better aligns the timing of OFC with other major conferences that have shifted their timing in response to the pandemic.”

OFC 2021 will introduce a blended in-person and virtual format to provide attendees the greatest opportunity to reach customers, reconnect with colleagues and demonstrate innovative solutions to this community. The high-caliber plenary program will include live onsite presentations from three distinguished speakers on the latest research and applications in optical fiber communication.

The OFC 2021 technical program will continue to explore the latest in optical communications innovation, data-center connectivity, machine learning/artificial intelligence (AI), applications of optical networks in 5G and cloud computing. The new abstract and summary submission deadline is 26 January 2021.

CHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.AlluxaHÜBNER PhotonicsMad City Labs, Inc.Optikos Corporation Universe Kogaku America Inc.CeNing Optics Co Ltd
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