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S.K. Gupta awarded NSF grant for autonomous optical manipulation of cells

Professor S.K. Gupta (ME/ISR) is the principal investigator for a three-year, $550K National Science Foundation grant, “Image Guided Autonomous Optical Manipulation of Cell Groups.” Associate Professor Wolfgang Losert (Physics) is the co-PI.

The research team will create a computational foundation, methods, and tools for efficient and autonomous optical micromanipulation using microsphere ensembles as grippers. This system will make use of a holographic optical tweezer, which uses multiple focused optical traps to position microspheres in three-dimensional space. The research will provide:

—An experimentally validated optical-tweezers based workstation for concurrent manipulation of multiple cells.

—Algorithms for on-line monitoring of workspace to support autonomous manipulation

—Real-time image-guided motion planning strategies for transporting microspheres ensembles.

Gupta and Losert’s work will provide a new way to autonomously manipulate difficult-to-trap or sensitive objects using microspheres ensembles as reconfigurable grippers. It also will lead to fundamental advances in several cyber physical systems areas by providing new approaches to micromanipulations, fast and accurate algorithms with known uncertainty bounds for on-line monitoring of moving microscale objects, and real-time motion planning algorithms to transport particle ensembles.

The ability to quickly and accurately manipulate individual cells with minimal training will enable researchers to conduct basic research at the cellular scale. Control over cell-cell interactions will allow unprecedented insights into cell signaling pathways and open up new avenues for medical diagnosis and treatment.

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September 28, 2009


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