Head: Prof Malini Olivo

Research Overview

The focus of the Laboratory of Bio-Optical Imaging (LBOI) is to investigate novel optical strategies for answering challenging problems in cancer, metabolic medicine, skin and neuroscience and cardiovascular diseases using the latest biophotonics and nanotechnology tools. Novel techniques that are currently being developed fall under two major categories, optical biosensors and bioimaging.

Optical Biosensors

Optical biosensor platforms are based on surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), Raman spectroscopy and surface plasmon resonance (SPR). SERS-based biosensor for ovarian cancer biomarker detection is currently being implemented through a clinical collaboration (NUHS, Singapore). SERS biosensor is being developed for the detection of tuberculosis through an industry tie-up in Singapore. Development of SERS-based proprietary optical fiber biosensor platform is ongoing for the sensitive analysis of clinical biofluids through collaboration with XLIM-CNRS, France. An automated novel SPR system is also developed for real-time bio-molecular binding interaction studies, such as protein-protein, protein-drug, DNA-DNA and DNA-RNA. Diffuse optical techniques are also employed for in vivo clinical strategies.

Patented SERS Biosensors for Biofluid Diagnostics


Patented SERS Ovarian Cancer Biosensor


SERS Biosensor for Rapid Tuberculosis Detection


SERS-active Photonic Crystal Fibre (PCF) Probe


Patented SPR Biosensor Platform at SBIC


Optical spectroscopy systems combining diffuse reflectance (DRS), Raman and DSCA are also developed for skin and fat studies through an all-in-one multifunctional fiber optic spectroscopy (MFOS) system. Catheter-based biosensing and vascular imaging system is also currently being developed for potential clinical translation, as an integrated point-of-care monitoring system for key human health diseases.

MFOS Multimodal System for Dermatological and Fat Applications


MFOS system integrates Raman spectroscopy, diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DRS) and diffuse speckle contrast analysis (DSCA) into a single platform


Photoacoustic imaging (PAI) forms one of the key aspects of optical bioimaging platforms within LBOI. Full spectrum of photoacoustic imaging techniques such as photoacoustic (PA) tomography is developed with state of the art joint lab arrangement with iThera Medical, Germany, while PA microscopy (PAM) system integration with Microphotoacoustics Inc. USA. PAT has been developed primarily for pre-clinical imaging and clinical skin imaging using 3D and 2D handheld probes and raster scanning optoacoustic mesoscopy (RSOM) technology with Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany. PAM system is used for various preclinical neuroscience imaging applications.

SBIC-iThera Joint Imaging Lab



 SBIC-MicroPhotoAcoustics Inc. Joint Imaging Lab


Diffuse optical imaging (DOI), namely near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) forms part of the second arm of optical imaging strategies at LBOI and it has been developed in tandem with MRI for preclinical brain and muscle imaging. This multimodal MRI-optical imaging system can be used to simultaneously measure multiple physiological parameters which are essential for disease diagnostics and therapy monitoring.

Multimodal hybrid imaging strategies by combining MRI-PAI, MRI-NIRS and MRI-NIRS-fluorescence tomography are also being developed.

Multimodal Imaging System for Neuroscience and Musculoskeletal Applications



Spatial Frequency Domain Imaging

Spatial Frequency Domain Imaging (SFDI) is a non-contact, non-invasive structured imaging system for wide-field optical and functional imaging. One of the main advantages of SFDI is independent quantification of absorption and scattering properties within tissue. SFDI-based imaging system also allows for depth tomography up to ~ 3mm. SFDI applications include wound imaging, burns and skin characterization. 

In the area of chemical smart probes, optical contrast agents for PAI, SERS and MRI are also currently developed for applications in multimodal preclinical imaging.

Biosensing and bioimaging projects are undertaken by LBOI include preclinical, clinical (with SGH, NUH and NSC, Singapore) and industrial partners (SME’s and multinationals). Ongoing academic collaborations are with other A*STAR institutes and with the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Technical University of Munich (Germany), CNRS-XLIM (France), University College of London (U.K.) and University of Manchester (U.K.).


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