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The invention that makes optical tweezers available to all

News: Dec 16, 2019

A device that could be installed on any microscope and would simplify the use of optical tweezers to study single cells is being developed by scientists at the Department of Physics. After receiving early acclaim for the idea from Venture Cup, the group hopes to launch their company in 2020.

Falko SchmidtOne team of physicists from the University of Gothenburg are aiming to make cutting-edge laser technology easy to use and available to anyone with a microscope. Falko Schmidt, Giovanni Volpe and Martin Mojica Benavides from the Department of Physics, together with entrepreneurial master’s students from Chalmers, are developing a product and software combo that utilizes optical tweezers in a brand-new way – and bridges the gap between physics and other scientific fields that would greatly benefit from easier access to the tool.
“We want to develop a completely automated device that can be easily used by other researchers, eliminating their need for specialized laboratories,” says Falko Schmidt, PhD-student at the Department of Physics and co-creator. “Basically, our product will be a box that you attach to any microscope. It’s that simple.”

Combines three technologies

The device, named Lucero, combines three technologies: Artificial intelligence to track cells, optical tweezers as a non-invasive tool that can hold and move cells without damaging them, and a micro fluidic chip to keep cells within a micro environment. These are all established methods, but nobody has yet combined them into a single device.
“Our product would provide the in-between step. You plug it in, use a point-and-click software to track the cell you want, isolate it, take it out in a vial and place it in another machine to study it.”

Endorsed by Venture Cup

So far, the idea remains in the early stages of development in regard to actually reaching the market. Three students from Chalmers School of Entrepreneurship, who are working on the project as a part of their master’s thesis, recently submitted a pitch to Venture Cup Väst’s IDEA hunt competition, where it was chosen as one of the 20 most promising ideas presented, out of a total of 376.
“It feels great to have our idea verified by peers. This is the first step on a long journey,” says Falko Schmidt. “Our plan is to found the company in 2020 and start pitching to bring in venture capital.”

Learn more abouot the Venture Cup IDEA Hunt winners (in Swedish)

Illustration Lucero



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