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Boulin Group

Microcomputing and data acquisition

Previous and current research

The Microcomputing and Data Acquisition Group concentrates its activities in three areas: (1) development of detector electronics for high speed time-resolved synchrotron radiation scattering experiments; (2) use of microstructures to carry out work on single cells; and (3) development of image processing methods for biological applications.

For fast synchrotron radiation instrumentation developments we rely on collaborations both with our Grenoble and Hamburg Outstations and with CERN. We are currently working on a new fast wire-per-wire detector and its associated readout electronics.

Work on the miniaturisation of biochemical assays includes the establishment of a capillary electrophoresis system with a suitable on-column detector. A method for handling and injecting very small biological samples will also be developed. This will directly address the present biological problem of capturing and detecting very small quantities of DNA-protein complexes.

Alternative assays will be investigated, as well as on-column reactions. At this stage it will be possible to specify a microfabricated device that will efficiently implement a broad range of useful functions.

Image processing is a tool that has established itself in modern molecular biology. Ongoing activities already help in addressing biological problems related to the quantitative analysis and the comparison of images. The automatic detection and counting of particles for immunomicroscopy images using reconstruction of an orthogonal wavelet decomposition has proved to be very successful. The analysis of video-microscopy image sequences has reached a stage where the analysis of movement is reliable.

Future projects and goals

In general our research is geared toward developing new tools and methods to help molecular biologists obtain quantitative data from their experiments.

New technologies such as silicon-pixelated detectors will be tested, with particular emphasis on the development of fast front-end electronics required to read out the detectors.

We will be working to adapt and refine existing capillary electrophoresis and cell and organelle manipulation techniques for use in our particular applications.

Further developments of innovative image processing algorithms will concern time sequence analysis, motion analysis, shape analysis and 3D-image analysis. In particular, the automation of the image analysis in 2D and 3D of microtubules and cell traffic will be an important part of our future work.