European Laboratory for Non-linear Spectroscopy

The European Laboratory for Non Linear Spectroscopy (LENS) was established in 1991 at the University of Florence as an independent scientific research centre with a clear international vocation, aimed to promote and facilitate the exchange of ideas, scientific themes, and technical skills. Research interests include atomic physics, photonics, biophysics, and chemistry. Since 1999, the research activities of LENS were extended to the field of biophotonics through the establishment of a research group led by Francesco Pavone. During the last few years, the Biophotonics research group, working in close collaboration with biologists, physiologists, and medical doctors of the University of Florence, has developed several custom modern microscopic and spectroscopic solutions for investigating a broad range of biological and biomedical problems. Within the biophotonics group, the Biomedical Optics research team, led by Riccardo Cicchi, aims at developing optical methods for diagnostics of biological tissue using spectroscopic and microscopic techniques.

For biological tissues diagnostics and pathological assessment, the group develop and integrate multiple laser scanning imaging techniques (such as two-photon excited fluorescence microscopy, second-harmonic generation microscopy, time- and spectral-resolved fluorescence microscopy, and Raman microspectroscopy) to capture high-resolution images of tissues without the need of any exogenous marker. Such approach is an alternative to traditional histopathological methods for diagnosing tissues. Moving to clinical applications, the research team implements spectroscopic methods in optical fibre sensors. The combination of fluorescence spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy and reflectance spectroscopy allows a more detailed classification of the tissues, providing a more accurate diagnosis in terms of both sensitivity and specificity. These methods are applied to a wide range of tissues (skin, brain, colon, bladder, cornea, oral tissues) in close collaboration with medical specialists.