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This year, Dr. Ir. Lien Smeesters, alumni from the European Master of Science in Photonics and now post-doc researcher at VUB B-PHOT, is honored with the European Innovation Award 2017 during the annual meeting of Photonics21. The award consists of a certificate, a trophy and a cash prize of € 5000.


Lien Smeeters received the award for her research investigating the use of optical spectroscopy for the detection of carcinogens in food products, and for the impact of her research on the photonics industry.


In her doctoral thesis ‘Improving food safety with optical screening’, Lien Smeeters investigated optical spectroscopic sensing techniques, and their integration in in-line laser-based optical scanning platforms, to non-destructively detect carcinogenic products. Specifically, she successfully demonstrated the optical sensing of mycotoxins in cereals and the monitoring of acrylamide formation during high temperature processing of potatoes in high-speed scanning configurations, adding novel and innovative functionalities to the existing sorting machines. With her research, she paves the way to an industrial, non-destructive, optical detection of carcinogens, contributing to an increased food safety for all of us.


”Receiving the Student Innovation Award is a great recognition of my research work,” researcher Lien Smeeters reacted on her prize. “Above all, this award also indicates the importance of applied scientific research and its connection to real-life applications. I thus also want to thank B-PHOT and Tomra Sorting NV, for the opportunity to work on this exciting research topic, and for enabling the integration of the technologies I developed into the state-of-the-art optical sorting machines.”


B-PHOT, the center of expertise in photonics at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, is very excited with the Student Innovation Award. This year is the 8th edition and Lien Smeeters is already the 3rd B-PHOT researcher who is distinguished with this European prize for game-changing innovation.


Back in 2010, Prof. Nathalie Vermeulen received the innovation award for her research in graphene-enabled light sources. Today her research ranges from graphene-based nonlinear optics and biosensing to integrated diamond photonics and mid-infrared solid-state lasers.


Also Prof. Thomas Geernaert was awarded in 2012 for his research in the domain of micro-optic fibre sensors ready to be applied for pressure monitoring in the field of oil and gas exploration, for smart monitoring of machines and civil constructions, and for touch sensitive artificial robotic skins.


Photonics21, the European Technology Platform representing industry and research in photonics, distinguishes students for their important contributions in Photonics Research & Innovation with industrial impact. 


This recognition clearly shows that our European Master in Photonics is equipping students with the best engineering skills to positively impact industry and society,” concludes Prof. Hugo Thienpont, Director of B-PHOT Brussels Photonics at Vrije Universiteit Brussel.