Research projects

Onirius is a SwissTransMed project that started on January 1st 2014. List of collaborators:

  • Biophotonics Group, Institute of Applied Physics, University of Bern
    Martin Frenz, H. Gunhan Akarcay, M. Jaeger, T. Petrosyan
  • Division of Neonatology, University of Bern
    M. Nelle, R. Gerull
  • Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory, Division of Neonatology, University Hospital Zurich
    M. Wolf, S. Sanchez Majos, L. Ahnen
  • Division of Neonatology, University Hospital Zurich
    C. Hagmann
  • CTU services and/or methodological consulting, Division of Neonatology, University Hospital Zurich
    D. Bassler
  • Signal Processing Lab 5, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL)
    J.-P. Thiran, R. E. Carrillo
Horizon 2020 ICT-29-2016

Prediction of plaque rupture and future cardiovascular events by means of photoacoustic imaging

Horizon 2020 ICT-29-2016

Stroke is an important source of mortality of men and women, often already in middle age. Vulnerable plaques in the carotid have the tendency to rupture, initiating cerebrovascular ischemic attacks. The decision for a surgical intervention to avoid plaque rupture poses a high risk, and is based on measuring the stenosis severity using ultrasound (US) imaging which has low accuracy.

To allow a better classification of patients into higher and lower risk groups, the CVENT consortium aims at developing a compact photoacoustic imaging (PAI) system for improved vulnerable carotid plaque diagnosis. The objective is the development of a portable multi-modality and multi-wavelength PAI system with an imaging depth range of 3 cm. The combination of large differences in optical absorption and the high resolution of US will be used to identify plaque vulnerability markers such as intra-plaque haemorrhage. Improved diagnosis of carotid plaques vulnerability will lead to a significant reduction in CVD related disability and mortality, a reduction in overtreatment and better allocation of healthcare cost.

To achieve this goal, CVENT brings together leading research groups and industrial partners with their unique expertise in R&D:

ESAOTE Europe BV, NL (coordinator)

Eindhoven University of Technology TU/e, NL

Ruhr-Universität Bochum, DE

Université Paris Descartes (HEGP), FR


University of Twente, NL

University of Berne, CH

Brightloop, FR


TP21, DE

Horizon 2020 ICT-29-2016

Photoacoustic mammogarphy beyond the horizon

Horizon 2020 ICT-29-2016, Photonics KET 2016, Research and Innovation Action RIA

Every year 1.4 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide, and about 0.5 million women die from the disease. Early detection and accurate diagnosis are crucial for optimizing survival chances, and imaging technologies play a major role in this process. Standard techniques for screening and diagnosis (X-ray, ultrasound, image-guided needle biopsy) suffer from limited accuracy and/ or other shortcomings. This results in incorrect decision making regarding the course of action, leading to under-treatment or over-aggressive treatment.

To meet the need for an imaging technique that can disrupt the current paradigm, the PAMMOTH consortium has come together with the objective to develop, validate and begin exploitation of a dedicated breast imaging device for a significant impact in breast cancer diagnosis. This system will combine 3D photoacoustic mammography and ultrasound, offering spectroscopic (molecular) specificity with high spatial resolution, resulting in improved diagnostic accuracy at affordable cost without the carcinogenic potential or patient discomfort of conventional techniques.

To achieve this goal, PAMMOTH brings together leading research groups and industrial partners with their unique expertise in R&D:

University of Twente, NL (coordinator)

PA Imaging Holding BV, NL

Medisch Spectrum Twente, NL

University College London, UCL

University of Bern, CH

University Brno, CZ

Imasonic SAS, FR


tp21 GmbH, DE

Recent projects:

Exploration of the phase diagram of liquid water in the metastable region by means of synthetic fluid inclusions

This project was aimed at the fundamental understanding of the remarkable thermodynamic properties of water, specifically in the purely understood low temperature metastable region, by pursuing an experimental approach using synthetic pure water inclusions in quartz as microscopic sample cells capable of withstanding the large negative pressure needed to follow the trend of the TMD (Temperature of Maximum Density) line and the shape of the spinodal curve.

Combined deep optoacoustics and ultrasound for multimodal imaging of the human body

The focus of this project was the basic research for translating multimodal ultrasound (US) and optoacoustic (OA) imaging using a handheld integrated probe to clinical practice. This is promising for imaging vasculature oxygen saturation based on the blood absorption spectrum (optoacoustic) within the tissue’s anatomical context (ultrasound). A main challenge to a successful combination of OA with US still is to obtain a clinically useful imaging depth. Imaging depth is ultimately limited by signal-to-noise ratio, but – before that – by “clutter” (disturbing background signals) and ultrasound aberrations. With the goal to extend imaging depth to the noise limit, we develop novel clutter reduction as well as aberration correction techniques.

Ultrasound biopsy for the assessment of steatosis, fibrosis and inflammation in liver disease

One of the main but still unsolved problem in Hepatology is the non-invasive diagnosis and identification of the aggressive form of NAFLD (non-alcoholic liver disease) since there is no single diagnostic tool available that can at the same time quantify fat, fibrosis and inflammation. The goal of this research project therefore is to overcome this drawback by adding a novel diagnostic modality - the measurement of speed of sound (SpOSo) - to the existing ultrasound features (classical ultrasound and elastography). SpOSo depends strongly on the fat content, but is less dependent on fibrosis, which can be diagnosed by elastography. The hypothesis is that SpOSo alone will allow us to quantify steatosis and will therefore be able to diagnose NASH (non-alcoholic steato-hepatitis). Furthermore, SpOSo can potentially provide novel information on inflammation, which is currently not available. We thus believe that the combination of SpOSo and elastography will provide a complete ground breaking ultrasound biopsy replacing invasive liver biopsies in patients with NAFLD, so saving patient discomfort and improving personalized therapeutic decisions.