Tomasz Tkaczyk specializes in the engineering of high-performance miniature optics and imaging systems for biomedical and life science applications. His projects combine advanced technologies in optics, opto-mechanics, electronics, and software design.
For two decades the Tkaczyk lab has focused on developing a wide range of imaging modalities to comprehensively detect, gage and monitor disease at varying tissue depths. These technologies are engineered for performance, portability, and cost-effectiveness to support biomedical and global health needs. Medical imaging modalities have focused on the development of integrated multimodal imaging systems, hyperspectral imaging, and micro and miniature-sized optical components, such as custom 3-D printed lenses, ultra-thin micro-optics for point-of-care diagnostics, and varying styles of objectives to guide microsurgical procedures and small-gage needle biopsies.
A major body of work has focused on the development and translation of high-speed Image Mapping Spectrometers (IMS), hyperspectral imaging systems that are capable of acquiring a biological sample’s chemical and physical composition in one snapshot. The quantitative imaging technology allows for the collection of multiple fluorescent probes across the entire emission spectrum at each pixel. High-dimensional data is acquired without the use of sequential scanning, thus allowing for longer illumination times without damaging the biological samples.
Recently, the IMS technology has been combined with a multimodal endomicroscope and confocal imaging for precancer detection. For volumetric tissue imaging, a 3-D optical coherence tomography system was developed with IMS technology and tested for retinal imaging to detect glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.
A new collaborative research focus in the Tkaczyk laboratory, which is supported by a $2 million grant by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, involves the development of a small, sophisticated snapshot spectrometer to analyze Earth’s atmospheric and surface conditions.
Tkaczyk’s work in hyperspectral imaging has resulted in four patents. He is the author of 70 peer-reviewed publications and two book chapters. He serves as editor and reviewer for several scientific journals, and is the author of The Field Guide to Microscopy.
Tkaczyk is a fellow of the Optical Society, or OSA, (2017), and a fellow of SPIE (2015). Awards he has received for his achievements in optical engineering include: the Rice University Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering’s Medical Innovations Award (2008, 2014), a Global Health Technologies award (2008), a John S. Dunn Research Foundation award (2009), a Becton-Dickinson Professional Achievement Award by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (2010), a Paul F. Forman Engineering Excellence Award by the Optical Society (2011), and both the Norman Edmund Optics Higher Education Award and the Norman Edmund Inspiration Award (2012) from Edmund Optics Inc.
Research in Tkaczyk’s Modern Optical Instrumentation and Bio-imaging Laboratory focuses on the development and application of novel imaging instruments and systems. The compact size and high-performance capabilities of the bio-imaging tools developed in his lab have tremendous potential for point-of-care diagnostics in various clinical settings around the world.
To effectively advance his engineering research, Tkaczyk’s group combines the newest technologies in:
- Optics (grayscale lithography, laser printing, free form diamond turning, molding, etc
- Opto-mechanics (LIGA, DRIE components);
- Electronics (custom detectors);
- Software (dedicated DSPs, new algorithms); and
- Bio-chemical materials (solgel, gold nanoparticles, quantum dots).
Micro-optics research in bioengineering is a challenging task that requires a constant awareness of emerging technologies. Through collaborations with researchers in academic and industrial settings, Tkaczyk’s efforts are leading to the design and testing of optical and mechanical technologies in:
- High-performance imaging micro-endoscopes that work with contrast agents and provide real-time cancer detection;
- Modern and inexpensive technologies that enable high performance and are adaptable to mass production; and
- High-throughput techniques like super-resolution or hyper-spectral imaging capabilities for optical screening devices that increase sensitivity and specificity for the detection of disease.