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The 6 research programs of the LaserLab

Below you can find more information about our research programs

Research programmes


    Programm Manager: Prof. Dr. Wybren Jan Buma

    Both Amsterdam universities have a strong history and track record in the area of analytical chemistry and spectroscopy, in particular with respect to the application of laser-based research.

    Currently, three groups (one in analytical chemistry, two in fundamental spectroscopy) are active. The research theme comprises activities in Molecular spectroscopy (Buma/Brouwer/Woutersen/ Williams/Zhang UvA), and Biomolecular (Analysis and) Spectroscopy (Ariese VU). Both groups thus brings in complementary expertise that allows them to cover together the full range of chemical-spectroscopic research. Research in the area of analytical chemistry and spectroscopy is dedicated to both fundamental science and applications, with a close connection to industry.


    Biophotonics and Microscopy
    Programm Manager: Prof. Dr. Johannes F. de Boer

    The long-term goal of the research is to develop the next generation optical techniques for the diagnosis, understanding, and treatment of disease.

    In clinical medicine, significant progress in screening, diagnosis and treatment has been fuelled by the exact sciences and has for instance led to imaging techniques such as X-ray or Computed Tomography, positron emission tomography, ultrasound imaging and magnetic resonance imaging. Optical techniques have the advantages of using non-ionizing radiation, being non- or minimally invasive with unprecedented resolution (down to molecular level), and having the capability of spectroscopic analysis of tissue. In the Biomedical Optics group basic science experts and leading clinicians work together closely to develop and evaluate in clinical practice new instruments for (endoscopic) in vivo optical diagnosis (“The Optical Biopsy”). In vivo diagnosis provides the platform for immediate treatment with minimally invasive instrumentation, which leads tot improved care and cost reduction.

    The key for successful clinical acceptance of new optical techniques is the quantification of (physiological) relevant parameters for disease characterization. Therefore, the determination of optical diagnostic criteria like the path-length that the light has traveled, scattering and absorption, fluorescence, birefringence and molecular vibrations in tissue in combination with appropriate and novel spectroscopic techniques and localized treatments will be an important challenge.

    These objectives are being realized by bringing together Sciences Departments and Medical Centers to create a multidisciplinary environment of MD’s and PhD’s promoting close collaboration and feedback.

    Current collaborations include the Rotterdam Eye Hospital and the Rotterdam Ophthalmic Institute (link), the VUmc and in particular the department of pulmonology at the VUmc (Dr. T. Sutedja) and the Neuroscience center.

    The research is supported by grants from the European Community (Laserlab Europe), National Institute of Health (NIH: 1R21RR023139-01A2) The Foundation for Fundamental Research (FOM: 09NIG 03) and ZonMW (VICI, career award) to Dr. de Boer.

    VU University Medical Imaging Center

    Medische Fotonica

    We have positions available for graduate students and Postdoctoral fellows with a background in optics and/or microscopy and affinity with biomedical research.

    Please contact Prof. dr. Johannes F. de Boer for further information



    Programm Manager: Prof. Dr. Roberta Croce

    Energy Research in LaserLaB Amsterdam is focused on the study of the fundamental events of the natural process of Photosynthesis. These include the capture of solar photons, the transfer of the electronic excitation to the photosynthetic reaction center where a charge separation is driven. All these events occur on a timescale of 10-15 to 10-9 seconds and are studied with ultrafast pulsed lasers using techniques such as pump-probe spectroscopy in the visible and mid-infrared, multi-dimensional photon echo, streak-camera detected fluorescence. Based on this knowledge artificial, bio-inspired photosynthetic systems are designed and studied using the same methods with the aim to develop a future 'bio-solar cell'. A recent development is the study of anorganic catalytic crystals that are designed to oxidize water by light.


    Programm Manager: Prof. Dr. Ton van Leeuwen

    The research activities in the program “Light and Tissue” at the Academic Medical Center focuses on the physics of the interaction of light with tissue to gather quantitative, functional and molecular information. We use the generated knowledge on biomedical optics for the development, introduction and clinical evaluation of (newly developed) optical imaging and analysis techniques.

    1. Quantification of physiological and pathological conditions with optical techniques. Based on the intrinsic contrast present in optical signals obtained by e.g. hyperspectral imaging, fluorescence and Raman spectroscopy, and optical coherence tomography (OCT), functional information of the tissue under study is obtained. This information can be used to improve, for instance, tumor detection, bilirubin monitoring in neonates, and dehydration monitoring.
    2. Forensic sciences. By utilizing optical techniques as spectroscopy and hyperspectral imaging, changes in the biophysical parameters are used for the determination of the age of a bruise (in relation to child abuse), identification and age determination of bloodstains, and fingermark analysis for donor profiling (crime scene investigation).
    3. Clinical evaluation and integration of optical techniques. The integration and combination of novel optical technologies for molecular and functional imaging is being explored. We focus on the combination of (Raman) spectroscopic techniques with OCT and on new developments in integrated optics (”from cleanroom to clinic”).
    4. Detection of extracellular vesicles. In cooperation with the laboratory of experimental clinical chemistry, optical techniques (e.g. flow cytometry, single particle tracking, Raman microspectroscopy) are being developed to quantify the diameter, concentration, and cellular origin of extracellular vesicles. These vesicles, also known as microparticles and exosomes, are present in blood and have a diameter between 30 nm to 1 μm.

    Internships currently available: look here.


    Programm Manager: Prof. Dr. Gijs Wuite

    The research in this program focuses on exploring biophysical questions on the level from single molecules to cells. A central question is how protein and DNA structural dynamics are related to their function. The aim is to work with increasingly complex assemblies of biomolecules in order to investigate the emergent properties from these systems. This approach bridges experimental systems biology and single-molecule manipulation techniques. We are also focusing more and more on single-biomolecule dynamics in living cells or organisms. We use a variety of optical techniques such as super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy, optical tweezers, tethered particle motion, AFM, as well as combinations of these techniques. The data obtained are related to biochemical studies and used for theoretical modeling.


    Programm Manager: Prof. Dr. Kjeld Eikema

    The research activities carried out in the program "Physics of Light and Matter" concentrate on performing ultra-precision experiments, which includes the development of advanced lasers sources (such as frequency comb lasers, ultra-stable lasers, extreme ultraviolet lasers and TeraWatt short pulse lasers) and spectroscopic methods to cool, manipulate and trap atoms, molecules and ions. The exciting possibilities due to advanced lasers and methods to control matter are explored in two major themes. One is "Fundamental physics at the atomic scale", which includes searching for a possible variation of fundamental constants, testing quantum-electrodynamic theory in atoms and small molecules, and studying matter at ultra-low temperatures. The other theme is "Applied Laser Spectroscopies" which ranges from spectroscopy of astrophysically relevant gas-phase species, sensitive detection of molecules in liquids and mono-layer surfaces, light scattering studies, development of miniature lasers for length measurement, to imaging with ultrafast X-rays a at sub-cellular level.