BioAstral Hompage

Huge potential for hyperspectral and multispectral imaging: Pat Heslop-Harrison and Trude Schwarzacher are very happy to talk about and advise on photon detectors / STJs for research, biomedical and agricultural applications. However, BioAstral Limited is no longer active.

Those involved with BioAstral were greatly saddened with the sudden death of co-founder and leading physicist Professor George Fraser in February 2014.

Over the decade the company was active, the value of hyperspectral photon detection technology for environmental, microscopical and medical imaging and diagnostics became increasingly clear, and by 2015 was necessary for many applications.

1) Spectral imaging by measurement of 256 brightnesses at each wavelength from near UV to deep-infrared gives much more information from an image than the 'conventional' brightness in red, green and blue bands, sometimes supplemented by infrared (satellite images, remote sensing of building heat-loss or energy usage etc).

2) Photon detection is needed because low-light detection is important for microscopy and fluorescence as well as remote sensing where images are very dim and may fade. Other available technologies such as APD (avalanche photodiodes) or PMT (photomultiplier tubes) are very noisy compared to the superconducting tunnel junctions.

As the companies founders had always said from the foundation, significant but not gigantic funding of the order of £GBP1million or $USD/€EUR1,500,000 was required to develop a working cryogenic hyperspectral imaging system ready for commercialization. Unfortunately BioAstral was never able to raise this funding (relatively small for a disruptive and widely applicable technology: a local sandwich shop closed with greater debts after 12 months in operation!). Progress was made towards using a STJ detector array (the manuscript is in advanced preparation at February 2015) and towards obtaining the low operational temperature with an external-cryogen free cooling system (no liquid helium top-ups required). However, the project never had the dedicated full-time PhD physicist, half-time PhD biologist and half-time PhD maths/biology/physics analyst plus a technician that was required to drive forward and develop to a usable system, and was continually cash-limited (eg not being able to purchase a £10k Mu-metal shield against the earth's magentic field on cool-down).

As for the company, most of the funds were spent on persuing very expensive patents from application to grant, and on a cooler which had a number of limitations (not least supply with US voltage power supply etc.). A lot of time was spent negotiating Heads of Agreement etc between the Founders and the University. This included both providing a Director. However, after George Fraser's death, the other founders and shareholders learnt that there was no University director, which has not been explained, and George was the only Director. Hence the Company has no Director.

The remaining parts of this website are reaonsably relevant to use of the detection technology, although dated in parts.

Stem cell scientists: Can you wait light years for new detection technology?

The BioAstral fluorescence detector technology, based on cryogenic STJs, is unique in detecting both the arrival of a photon and the colour of each photon. This heralds a long-awaited revolution in a technique that now dominates the readout of biomedical research assays.

The future of biology is the detection of light

Biomedical researchers the world over use fluorescent probes to discover what is going on inside cells and how they interact with the outside world. Drug discovery and medical diagnostics exploit fluorescent assays. Genomics researchers use fluorescent probes to answer questions such as: "Which genes are being expressed?" or "How are genes controlled?"

To answer the toughest questions, researchers need:
Improved quantification of light
More probes assayed simultaneously
Greater throughput and sensitivity
Higher background discrimination and wide bandwidth
Accurate measurement of arrival time of photons

These are all features delivered by our BioAstral hyperspectral photon detection technology.

The BioAstral technology provides a unique solution that is based on fundamentally different science from:
19th century film or
20th century technologies such as CCD, CMOS, APD or PMTs.

BioAstral has been selected to present at the ESA Investment forum

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