Chris Barty, with students Haytham Effarah and Kyle Chestnut working at a lab table with gogles on.
Chris Barty, with students Haytham Effarah and Kyle Chestnut, is spearheading the Laser Compton X-ray project in the COSI labs. Julie Kennedy / UCI Beall Applied Innovation

Diseases are constantly evolving in our modern world, and with their evolution comes the need for new technology to combat them and sustain quality human health.

The Convergence Optical Sciences Initiative labs, located in the Cove@UCI, specializes in the creation, clinical translation and commercialization of trailblazing optics and photonic technologies to transform human health. COSI are prioritizing the creation of laser technology that could benefit the health of those fighting chronic illnesses.

“Here at the labs, the main focus is the intersection of multiple areas such as physical science, biology, engineering, industry and medicine, all around photonics,” says Chris Barty, Distinguished Professor of physics & astronomy at the UCI School of Physical Sciences and senior faculty member of the COSI labs.

One of the main activities Barty is currently spearheading a project with the Laser Compton X-ray, an X-ray machine that works similarly to a laser pointer and is highly tunable. The application of this extremely precise X-ray has the potential to revolutionize disease detection and treatment.

“If we do what we say we’re going to do correctly, you’ll never remove a breast, you’ll never remove a prostate again,” says Barty. “It’ll transform human health.”

Students pursuing UCI’s dual Ph.D./M.D. program use the labs to study how to enable better medical applications, while physics graduate students come up with new ways to improve X-ray sources. Since the pandemic, Barty and the COSI lab’s small team of graduate students are also working on a compact UVC laser that would be able to alter the natural qualities of the virus on surfaces.

As the COSI labs move forward, Barty hopes to change the way medical professionals use X-rays and lasers, making UCI Beall Applied Innovation a hub for X-ray and laser technology for the Orange County ecosystem.

“I would be thrilled if we had an X-ray source sitting at Beall Applied Innovation that acts as a national center for advanced radiography and radiology,” says Barty. “Being a part of Beall Applied Innovation makes it really easy to pursue this vision at UCI.”

Learn more about the COSI labs.