Introduction to the Photonics Research Center (PRC) at UQO

The PRC was created on January 1, 2003 with an opening of the first of two consecutive Tier 1 Canada Research Chair mandates awarded to Dr. Wojtek J. Bock. The scientific focus of the research and technology development program conducted by the Center since then is to study, develop and implement several innovative technology platforms for photonic sensing based on the “laboratory-on-a-fiber” (LOF) concept. The PRC was one of the first groups in the world to adopt this approach as early as in 2005. More specifically, the current program is defined by the SPI/NSERC Senior Industrial Research Chair in Photonic Sensor systems for Safety and Security Monitoring, awarded to Dr. Bock on January 1st, 2016.

Research activities

The Center conducts scientific research on fabrication technology, instrumentation, calibration and multiplexing of novel bio-chemical fiber-optic sensors and sensor systems as well as on other photonic devices and components for various applications. A large number of scientific journal publications, seven American patents, five Canadian patents, and a well-established international reputation illustrate the know-how of the PRC.

The practical research objectives now center around studying and testing a variety of novel fiber-optic device solutions and sensing techniques in order to acquire better performing photonic sensing devices and systems for applications in sectors of national importance to Canada. Two new types of bio-chemical sensing systems are being developed as two parallel Themes of the IRC Program. The first type of sensor system under investigation will be designed for ultra fast and selective bacteria detection in a water environment (below 20 minutes), and will be based on our unique combination of optical fibers with biophage and aptamer materials. The second type will be dedicated to remote detection of trace amounts of illicit drugs, using fluorescence quenching and/or aptamer materials integrated with fiber-optic sensors. It is expected that the properties and capabilities of such a drug sensor system will enable it to address the requirements for remote detection of suspect materials in air at critical environments (airports, stadiums, theaters, schools). All devices will provide on-site detection capability, fast response, low cost, hand-held or long-distance operation, high sensitivity and high signal-to-noise ratio.