Theme Leaders
Theme Leaders
Prof Andy Greentree and Prof Ewa Goldys
the fundamental limits of detection
New ways for light
New ways for light
to measure inside biological systems
nanoscale assays

Science Theme 3: Measure

Theme Leaders: Prof Ewa Goldys and Prof Andrew Greentree

We're creating integrated nanophotonic architectures to ensure that effective biological measurement can take place. 

The theme “Measure” focuses on technology integration and using the developed technology for producing new understandings of real biological systems with emphasis on in-vivo sensing inside of the body. It draws on the "Illuminate" and "Recognise" themes which are providing the building blocks for molecular detection. 


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We develop new "windows to the body" with two complementary approaches of non-invasive label-free and invasive labelled detection of selected biomolecules in cells and tissue. 

Our main emphasis is label-free characterisation of fluorescent compounds that are native to cells. We carry out a careful quantitative analysis of fluorescent colour of cells and tissues with specific emphasis on cell population properties. Colour is a supremely sensitive indicator of biological processes and its quantification enables us to non-invasively identify cell groups and analyse biochemistry. We have been able to access key cell and tissue characteristics, such as the levels of surface biomarkers, reactive oxygen species, genetic modification and outcomes of chemical interventions. With this quantitative analysis, we have been able to test biological hypotheses, such as whether a medical treatment has been effective.

Current projects in this area focus on characterisation of the embryos within the “Spark of Life” Challenge, on the analysis of neuronal cell populations for “Sensing sensation” and the function of the epithelium. We have been able apply CNBP technologies to projects with our external partners in the area of ophthalmology, diabetes and cancer. Our most immediate plans focus on early diagnostics of motor neuron disease and monitoring of photodynamic therapy, PDT (with Professor Brian Wilson, Partner Investigator in our Centre). 

Raman sensing is another non-invasive biomolecular detection modality where we work together with our partner investigator Prof Juergen Popp from the Institute of Photonic Technology, Jena IPHT Jena. The program on real-time detection of inflammation in blood vessels (with PI Prof Stephen Nicholls) uses a Raman probe to provide non-invasive diagnostic of vulnerable plaque via Raman signatures.

Our program on labelled detection of key molecular species centres around micro- and nanoparticle based probes and it supplements our work on label-free technologies. Here, the focus is on the development of nanoscale assays, to enable localised sensing and repetitive sensing of small animals. Our emphasis is on two types of molecular species, cytokines, where we combine nano-and microparticle sensors with remote detection, and on metalloproteases. Here we build on the achievements of the themes Illuminate and Recognise and we employ ultra-bright fluorescent particles and tailored surfaces developed elsewhere in the Centre.


We will:

  • create nanoscale photonic sensing architectures
  • develop remote nanoscale assays
  • develop novel spatially distributed measurement schemes and novel assay platforms including for in-vivo applications.
  • explore the fundamental limits of detection of key analytes for CNBP including cytokine molecules

The Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics links Australia's key nanophotonics groups and builds on Global Collaborations with a focus on doing the science required to advance biology.