The University of Iowa

IMPORTANT: The Optical Science and Technology Center and Microfabrication Facility are being retired after fall 2018 and their services reconfigured under the new Iowa Center for Research, Exploration, and Advanced Technology in Engineering and Sciences (Iowa-CREATES) and Materials Analysis, Testing, and Fabrication (MATFab) in the Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories (IATL) in spring 2019. As a result, the OSTC/UIMF site will eventually be taken down. Until then, please visit the Iowa-CREATES Website at, or read more about the new center at


Optical Science and
Technology Center


A wide variety of projects are being pursued that involve the application of optics in the general field of biosciences. Many of these applications involve the application of spectroscopy for the characterization of biomedical systems. Examples include:

  • The use of two-dimensional fluorescence correlation spectroscopy to distinguish cancerous and non-cancerous tissue in real-time;
  • The use of near infrared spectroscopy for noninvasive clinical measurements of glucose for the treatment of diabetes and urea for the optimization of the hemodialysis process;
  • The use of dynamic light scattering techniques to characterize micrometer and nanometer size aggregation of proteins and other biochemicals; and
  • The use of optically sensitive molecular probes to track endogenous molecules during important physiological events, such as neurotransmission.

Optical technology is also being used to examine in situ chemistry associated with a variety of biotechnology and biochemical processes. Examples include:

  • Noninvasive near infrared spectroscopic probes to follow in situ concentrations of cell nutrients and metabolites during cultivation of insect and mammalian cells;
  • Radioluminescent light sources for real-time in situ monitoring of oxygen in cell culture media;
  • Development of novel semiconductor materials and devices, microfluidic geometries, and electronic support units for the development of miniaturized noninvasive near infrared sensing technology for continuous real-time monitoring;
  • Methods of single molecule laser spectroscopy to determine structures of single protein molecules at different stages of folding; and
  • The use of novel time-resolved vibrational spectroscopy, including two-dimensional infrared experiments and infrared pump-probe measurements, to investigate intermolecular interactions and determine how such interactions control the chemistry of enzyme catalysis.