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PolyU develops highly sensitive, microscopic optical fibre sensors with pioneering biomedical monitoring capability

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has made a breakthrough development in optical fibre sensors, making the advanced railway safety monitoring technologies available for medical surveillance inside the human body. The research team led by Professor Hwa-yaw TAM, Chair Professor of Photonics and Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering at PolyU, developed the novel fibre optic microsensors that are biocompatible, supple and extremely sensitive to very small pressure changes inside the human body. The new sensors open new possibilities for medical applications, from improving surgery precision to providing novel ways of monitoring human body recovery from within the body. Examples include smart cochlear implantation, bone fracture recovery monitoring, or navigation monitoring in cardiac catheterization. Optical fibres are not just for transmission – they are also good sensors for detecting external changes by observing the reflection of the light beams passing through them. There is also growing use of fibre optics technology in medical applications, such as in surgical instrumentation, diagnostic and imaging equipment, or sensor-based wearable medical devices. However, to deploy fibre optic sensing technology for monitoring inside the human body, traditional optical fibres made of glass or plastic have major drawbacks – glass is too stiff and brittle, while traditional plastic fibres tend to absorb water. Furthermore, the optical fibre sensors need to be able to detect very subtle changes for the purpose of medical monitoring. Professor Tam’s team made a critical breakthrough by basing their novel fibre optic sensors on an advanced plastic material, ZEONEX, that solves the problems of glass and traditional plastic. In addition, the new sensor is made more sensitive by adding a side hole running in parallel with the light transmission path inside the optical fibre. The new “Side Hole Polymer Optical Fibre Sensors” are biocompatible and could be made as small as a few micrometres. Their sensitivity to pressure is twenty times that of traditional optical fibre sensors. Professor Tam believes the sensors enable whole new applications for medical monitoring inside the human body not available before. “The new plastic sensors are humidity insensitive, supple and shatter-resistant. They are also chemically inert, biocompatible, and can be made super tiny in size. These unique features make the sensors ideal for integration with medical implants,” Professor Tam said. “The new plastic optical fibre sensors can detect extremely subtle changes even of a difference smaller than 1 per cent of atmospheric pressure – sensitive enough to measure pressure inside the lungs while breathing, which changes by just a few kilopascals,” he added. The research team is currently working with counterparts from Australian and Japanese universities to develop various sensors for medical monitoring applications. For instance, a smart cochlear implant featuring the PolyU tiny sensors could provide critical information about location and force to surgeons in real time during the implantation procedure. The smart cochlear implant will commence in vitro testing at the University of Melbourne and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. PolyU is also working with Monash University researchers to integrate fibre sensors in orthopaedic implants for monitoring bone fracture recovery. The PolyU research team will continue to explore further medical monitoring applications using the new plastic fibre optic sensors, including their use for precise navigation and shape detection in cardiac catheterization. Professor Tam and his team are also working to expand the sensors’ ability to measure other physical or chemical changes like acidity and temperature. “We also seek to develop a sensing network that integrates our sensors with emerging technologies like the wireless Internet-of-Things. The sensing network would be able to give a comprehensive and precise picture of changes inside the human body, thus helping patients around the world via technological innovation,” he said. The “Side Hole Polymer Optical Fibre Sensors” research findings were published earlier this year in Optics Letters by US-based The Optical Society. Part of the jointly developed applications with other universities have already been granted patents.   ***End***

6 Jul, 2021

Research & Innovation Faculty of Engineering


PolyU flag-raising ceremony in commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) today held a flag-raising ceremony on campus in commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Dr LAM Tai-fai, Council Chairman of PolyU, Dr Lawrence LI Kwok-Chang, Deputy Council Chairman of PolyU, Dr Katherine NGAN Ng Yu-ying, Court Chairman of PolyU, and Professor Jin-Guang TENG, President of PolyU, together with senior management of the University attended the ceremony to show support for the continued development of our Nation as well as the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.

1 Jul, 2021

Events The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


Centennial Exhibition on Chinese Scientists and Lunar Soil Sample features PolyU's contributions to national space missions

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is honoured to be invited to the Centennial Exhibition showcasing Chinese scientists and a lunar soil sample, which starts from tomorrow at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

26 Jun, 2021

Events The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


Leading Chinese aerospace scientists speak on BeiDou and Chang'e programmes at PolyU public lectures

Two distinguished astronautical scientists overseeing China’s BeiDou navigation satellite system and the Chang’e-4 mission to the moon’s far side spoke today at the public lectures of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) – part of their visiting programme in Hong Kong to reach out to young people and inspire them to pursue scientific exploration. ZHANG He, executive director of the Chang’e-4 lunar probe project, talked about the significance of the mission – in which PolyU was involved – in terms of understanding the mysterious “dark side” of the moon and how it laid the foundation for future exploration of the lunar south pole. “Before we landed on the far side of the moon, there were online rumours about an alien base being located there. But since Chang’e-4’s landing until now, we have found nothing except regolith, rocks and impact craters. It is a desolate place and definitely has no alien base there,” Zhang told the audience at the Jockey Club Auditorium and viewers tuned into the live streaming on social media. On the moon soil samples collected last year via PolyU’s “Surface Sampling and Packing System” in the subsequent Chang’e-5 mission, Zhang said China is committed to contributing to international space exploration, and has already opened loan applications for the samples to researchers around the world. Zhang encouraged young people to contribute to the Nation’s astronautical endeavours in various roles, no matter what disciplines they studied. “Even if you are an arts student, you can join our administrative operations and contribute to our astronautical endeavours,” she said. Meanwhile, XIE Jun, chief designer of the third generation BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS-3), discussed how China developed its own navigation satellite system and completed its constellation of thirty-five satellites after over two decades of effort. The system is now serving a wide range of applications including transportation and agriculture. Xie told Hong Kong students that the Nation’s astronautical projects need talents from all academic disciplines. “Specifically for the BeiDou programme, we are particularly in need of talents with chemistry or physics backgrounds to help solve engineering challenges like the development of atomic clocks and homegrown parts,” he said. PolyU teachers and students led by PolyU’s President, Professor Jin-Guang TENG, also had an exchange salon session in the afternoon with Xie, Zhang and the Tianwen-1 Mars probe’s chief designer SUN Zezhou, together with young astronautical scientists from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. Other PolyU researchers who attended included Professor YUNG Kai-leung, Director of the University Research Centre for Deep Space Explorations and Chair Professor & Associate Head of Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering; Professor WU Bo, Associate Head of Department of Land Surveying and Geo-informatics; and Professor FU Xiaowen, Associate Dean (External Engagement) of Faculty of Engineering.   *****End*****

24 Jun, 2021

Research & Innovation The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


PolyU welcomes distinguished scientists of China’s space programmes and hosts their first public lecture series in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) today extended its warmest welcome to the visit of a delegation of distinguished Chinese astronautical scientists who spearhead China’s key space programmes from manned missions to lunar and Mars explorations. PolyU was also honoured to host the delegation’s first public lecture during their visit to Hong Kong at the Jockey Club Auditorium, featuring Professor QI Faren, the first chief designer of the Shenzhou spacecrafts, who talked about China’s space programme and the spirit and virtues embodied by its astronautical researchers.

23 Jun, 2021

Research & Innovation The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


PolyU scholars elected into the Canadian Academy of Engineering

Professor Li CHENG, Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Professor Song GUO, Associate Head (Research & Development) of the Department of Computing at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) were recently named Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, the national institution of Canada that comprises its most accomplished engineers who have expressed their dedication to the application of science and engineering principles. Fellows of the Academy are nominated and elected by their peers. In view of their outstanding contributions to engineering in Canada and around the world, and for their service as role models in their fields and to their communities, Prof. Cheng and Prof. Guo join forty-eight other new Fellows and two new International Fellows from around the world who were elected into the Academy this year. Prof. Cheng has made significant contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the areas of sound and vibration, wave manipulation and structural health monitoring. In addition to many high-quality contributions to science, through his close collaboration with industry his research has had direct impact on solving practical engineering problems. Prof. Guo’s work in cloud computing, edge artificial intelligence, big data and distributed systems has had broad and seminal impact – from the advancement of scientific knowledge to industrial innovation. He has been widely recognized for his pioneering contributions to the resilient management system widely used in post-disaster applications. Prof. Cheng and Prof. Guo will be honoured at the Academy’s Induction Ceremony this October.   ***** END *****

16 Jun, 2021

Achievements Faculty of Engineering


PolyU, XJTU, State Grid and HK Electric continue collaboration on the “Belt and Road Advanced Professional Development Programme in Power and Energy” to nurture senior talent for the energy industry

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU); Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU); State Grid Corporation of China (State Grid) and The Hongkong Electric Company, Limited (HK Electric) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to extend their joint collaboration in running the “Belt and Road Advanced Professional Development Programme in Power and Energy” (The Programme) for another three years. The Programme aims to nurture senior management talent in power and energy-related fields through diversified, cross-regional, systematic and innovative training schemes to meet the rising demand for talent in the Belt and Road countries and regions, thereby promoting the sustainable development of infrastructure and facilitating economic growth in these countries and regions in line with the Belt and Road strategies of the Nation. This cross-regional and multi-cultural university-industry collaboration programme is the first-of-its-kind in both Mainland China and Hong Kong.

3 Jun, 2021

Events Faculty of Engineering


PolyU develops biomimetic nanosheet for cancer therapy and imaging

A research team from the Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology (ABCT) of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has developed a novel type of biomimetic nanosheet with a multi-modal imaging function, which can track tumour development and treatment processes in real-time. By harnessing two emerging cancer therapies, namely immunotherapy and photothermal therapy, the biomimetic nanosheet enables effective and precise treatment of tumours, which will significantly improve the therapeutic outcome of tumours, reduce side effects and increase patients’ survival rates. The research findings have been published in the prestigious international journal Advanced Science.

31 May, 2021

Research & Innovation Faculty of Science


Dr Tan Tie-niu, Deputy Director of the Central Government’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong visits PolyU

Chinese version only

26 May, 2021

Research & Innovation Faculty of Construction and Environment, Faculty of Engineering

PolyU achieves high ratings in Research Assessment Exercise 2020

The University Grants Committee (UGC) announced today (May 24) the results of Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2020, in which PolyU received high ratings in various research areas. PolyU is delighted to see the encouraging results and believes that they are a recognition of the University’s dedicated efforts in pursuing research excellence over the years.

24 May, 2021

Research & Innovation Communications and Public Affairs Office

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