Biophotonics: Telecomm and Fiber-Optics Meet the Medical World

John Black, PhD of Triermain, LLC

Tuesday, Oct 9, 2018 - 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

This event is free!  All attendees MUST register using the Eventbrite form below.

This CNSV-organized event is co-sponsored by the Santa Clara Valley Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) chapter.

The introduction of the laser as a therapeutic surgical tool in the 1960s has had a profound effect on certain fields of medicine, particularly for eye surgery (ophthalmology) and minimally invasive surgical disciplines such as the use of a laser to break up, e.g., kidney stones (lithotripsy).  In addition, the use of fiber-optics to view and operate on internal organs (laparoscopy and endoscopy) has revolutionized many surgical areas.

However, the implementation of real-time precision diagnostic and surgical guidance has just recently started to blossom as many of the advances in electronics, computing and optical telecommunications of the last two decades make their way into the biophotonics field. Several factors have come together to make this happen, including: (1) the ability to use fiber-optics with outer diameters as small as 50 microns as conduits for information, (2) the extremely high intrinsic bandwidths and signal-to-noise of optical systems, (3) the insensitivity of fiber-optics to ambient electromagnetic perturbations, and (4) the possibility of using the spectral and coherence properties of laser light to simultaneously yield both functional (molecular level) and structural (tissue organization) information.

In this talk, John Black will present a tour of how optical techniques available today allow a surgical tool to sense both temperature and force in real time, and how the optical analog of ultrasound is being used to equip surgical instruments with the ability to allow the physician to image the tissue they are interacting with, and to thereby make a treatment decision in real time, with 10-micron precision, all with minimal mechanical and cost impact on the surgical tool.

speaker portrait

About the speaker, John Black, PhD
of Triermain, LLC

John Black has over 20 years of experience in the medical, scientific / research and industrial segments of the photonics industry. He currently consults in laser design and development, optical coherence tomography (OCT), medical device design and development, image-guided surgery and optical remote sensing, and has founded a company to develop point-of-care diagnostic imaging endoscopy for the detection of the most lethal form of ovarian cancer.

At FoxHollow Technologies in 2006, he led the optical engineering team in the successful development of Nighthawk™, the first-in-man intravascular image-guided plaque excision catheter. This was the first real-time optical coherence tomography (OCT)-guided intravascular surgical procedure performed in humans, and one of the earliest OCT-guided human surgical procedures of any kind.

After FoxHollow, he led the imaging team at Avinger in the development of OCT-guided catheters for the treatment of chronic total occlusions, a severe end-stage form of peripheral / coronary artery disease that can lead to amputations and bypass surgery.

At Coherent Medical, he managed the Laser / Tissue Engineering group and spearheaded development of flagship surgical, ophthalmic and dermatologic applications of lasers – pioneering a new treatment of cutaneous vascular lesions.

He then joined Lightwave Electronics (which became JDSU, Inc., and is now Lumentum), working initially on advanced fiber lasers for RGB projection systems in consumer electronics and subsequently on the design of the Xcyte™ mode-locked ultraviolet laser for flow cytometry.

John has a B.Sc. in Chemistry with First Class Honors, and a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the Univ. of Nottingham. He received an SERC/NATO Research Fellowship to do post-doctoral research in photochemistry at Stanford Univ., and was a post-doctoral research fellow at Columbia Univ. developing new lasers for molecular spectroscopy and reaction dynamics. John has eleven issued patents and more pending applications in the fields of laser development, biophotonics, optical diagnostics and medical devices. He is an IEEE Senior Member, IEEE-CNSV member, past chair of the Santa Clara Valley Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) chapter, guest lecturer at the Univ. of Arizona BME department, and a member of OSA, APS, SPIE and Sigma Xi.


SEMI, Milpitas, CA
673 S Milpitas Blvd, Milpitas, CA 95035
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Be sure to bring a photo ID to verify your registration.

The building is on the corner of S Milpitas Blvd and Yosemite Dr., with the main entrance facing S Milpitas Blvd. However, you will need to enter the building from the Yosemite Dr. side. Plenty of parking is available.



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