Politecnico di Milani

Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI) is one of the largest universities in Italy (1,400 faculty staff and 38,000 students), and is acknowledged in Europe as a high-level technical school for engineering.

POLIMI has extensive experience in collaborative research projects and is the top university in Italy for projects funded in FP7, with 280 funded projects (53 as project coordinator) and 9 ERC grants, with 26% success rate on submitted proposals (EU average 21%). In H2020, 96 projects have been funded and 10 ERC grants awarded so far.

POLIMI is also active in supporting IP transfer from academia to industry. Since 2000, more than 100 startups were spun off/out of POLIMI, and more than €80 million turnover generated during incubation. In 2014, more than 40 companies were founded (83% remain operative companies). POLIMI is 9th in the UBI-INDEX ranking of the best European incubators.

Thanks to a long-lasting successful collaboration between the Department of Physics, “Dipartimento di Fisica” (POLIMI-FIS), and the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering, “Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Bioingegneria” (POLIMI-DEIB), POLIMI has carried out research on time-resolved diffuse optical spectroscopy systems with single-photon sensitivity and picosecond resolution by pioneering novel technologies (pulsed laser, single-photon detectors, gating electronics). Innovative concepts were implemented into prototypes and validated in clinics.

POLIMI also has long-lasting expertise in simulations of diffuse optics paradigmatic cases, thus allowing instrument performance validation also in novel unexplored applications.

POLIMI-FIS: For more than twenty years the group of Photonics for Health has been performing research activity for the development of laser systems and optical detection techniques with ultimate sensitivity and high temporal resolution. High-impact results were obtained in the biomedical field, for optical imaging and spectroscopy of highly diffusive media and for fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) and spectroscopy.

POLIMI-DEIB: The single-photon avalance diode research group (SPAD lab) has a well-established world-wide leadership in the design, development and exploitation of:

  • single-photon avalanche diodes in various materials, from silicon to InGaAs/InP and germanium)
  • associated electronics (time-to-digital converters, imaging chips, etc.)
  • associated instrumentation (application-specific detection modules, single-photon imaging cameras, etc.).

POLIMI-FIS is in charge of the project coordination and leads Work Packages 4 and 8. It will:

  • Devise novel approaches to diffuse optics exploiting small source-detector distance and fast-gated detection
  • Identify requisites and specs for the development of the smart optode
  • Support in design of system architecture
  • Test and validate at laboratory level (on tissue phantoms) new approaches for diffuse optical tomography up to the full multi-modal imaging system (WP leader)
  • Assist in the clinical validation of the multi-modal system.

POLIMI-DEIB will design, fabricate and test wide-area gated single photon detectors in CMOS silicon technology and timing circuits for acquiring the arrival time of detected photons (THC, time-to-histogram-converter). Given the small size of the smart optode to be developed, a compact low-power integrated solution will be chosen, whose output will be a histogram representing the distribution of the photon arrival times. POLIMI-DEIB leads Work Package 1.

For more information go to polimi.it


Micro Photon Devices

Micro Photon Devices is a dynamic production and engineering company founded in July 2004 and based in Bolzano, Italy. The company is a spin­off of POLIMI and Microgate S.r.L., a company with a well­consolidated development and production activity in the field of Adaptive optics. The standard products by MPD are single­photon counting and timing modules. MPD has currently five highly qualified full­time employees: three research engineers, with in­depth know­how of SPAD device fabrication, of gated/free­running active quenching electronics and of their applications; two skilled technicians responsible for the assembling, and testing of photon counting and timing modules. After the exploratory phase, the company has been profitable since 2006 and exports world­wide 95% of these products. Besides standard production, MPD is also available to develop custom designs and specific applications related to photon counting detection technology. MPD has initially developed three series of Silicon photon counting modules (standard, fibre­coupled, photon detection carrier), and recently introduced also an InGaAs/InP based photon counting module, a single photon imaging array with 2048 SPAD pixels, and a SPAD based Quantum RNG.

MPD’s role in the project will be to define the electrical interfaces between the optode components developed by the other partners (namely the excitation and detection ICs), and the design and experimental characterization of a very compact and robust smart optode, to be used both in the combined optical/US probe but also as a standalone system. MPD will be involved in the scientific Work Packages 1, 3, 4, and Work Package 7 on Exploitation. MPD will also collaborate with POLIMI-DEIB in the design and fabrication of the detection electronics chip.

Finally, MPD will be in charge of the exploitation of the standalone smart optode.

For more information go to micro-photon-devices.com


San Raffaele Hospital

Ospedale San Raffaele (OSR) is one of the leading private scientific research institutes in Italy, recognized by the Italian Ministry of Health as a Research Hospital (IRCCS). It comprises both clinical and research activities, conducted by a highly specialized and qualified hospital with 1,357 beds and a research institute with around 1,600 basic, clinical and translational scientists. OSR integrates its research with the education and training activities conducted within the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University which comprises the faculties of medicine, psychology and philosophy and provides specialized post graduate courses, residency programs in various medical specialties, and international PhD programs. The San Raffaele Hospital (OSR) together with Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele (USR) and Fondazione Centro San Raffaele (FCSR) are part of the San Raffaele Scientific Institute (SRSI), which hosts all teaching, basic, translational and clinical research activities in a large infrastructural compound.

OSR performs cutting-edge science and aims at advancing the knowledge about human diseases and novel therapies through translational research. OSR can count on 11 Clinical Departments, 5 Research Divisions, 4 Research Institutes, 3 Research Centers and 3 Research Areas. In particular OSR excellence research fields are: Oncology; Neuroscience; Metabolic and Cardiovascular Sciences; Regenerative Medicine, Stem Cells and Gene Therapy; Immunology, Transplantation and Infectious Diseases; Genetics and Cell Biology; Genomics, Bioinformatics and Imaging technologies. 

The clinical validation of the SOLUS system will be performed in the Breast Imaging Department, part of a Breast Unit organization with a multidisciplinary team of experts in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. The Breast Unit performs about 5,000 mammographic and 3,000 US examinations per year, with 600 patients per year undergoing surgery.

The Breast Imaging Department of OSR will lead Work Package 5 and design and lead the clinical study to validate the multi-modal SOLUS device, interfacing with physicists and industry experts to take care of the clinical and practical needs to utilize this new tool. Beside Dr. Panizza, who will coordinate the group, 3 radiologists will be involved in performing the multi-modal examinations, and evaluating the clinical feasibility and reproducibility of the technique. OSR will be responsible of the clinical data base, and work with physicists and industrial developers to provide the clinical point of view on both hardware (e.g., probe ergonomics) and software (e.g., multi-parametric data visualization) issues.

For more information go to hsr.it