Sensing with light

The members of the Photonic Biosensing Laboratory create optical systems that can detect minute quantities of specific molecules in samples from patients, animals, plants or the environment. Our goal is to create point of care rapid diagnostic technologies and highly sensitive systems for environmental sensing.

We are located in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of McGill University.

Research Interests

  • Plasmonically driven polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for DNA and RNA detection
  • Resonant microcavity optical biosensors
  • Optical nanoparticle design for photothermal cancer therapy
  • SPR and LSPR optical biosensors



Developing new techniques to maximise information from SPR and LSPR measurements

Photothermal Therapy

Using laser light to destroy tumours

Resonant Cavity Sensors

We are developing techniques to interrogate these devices in the time domain, opening the way to portable biosensors

Ultra-fast plasmonic PCR

Accelerating the polymerase chain reaction using light for rapid detection of bacterial and viral infections.


Principal Investigator


Andrew Kirk

Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Optical biosensors, Point of care/point of use medical diagnostics and environmental sensors, Integrated optics and nanophotonics

PhD Students


Fatma Oudjedi

Graduate Student

Nanoplasmonics, Nanoscale thermal therapy, Numerical modeling


Mohammad Motavas

Graduate Student

Optical & Electrical Biosensing, Point of Care (Medical diagnostics & environmental), Photonics and Plasmonics, Optoelectronics


Padideh Mohammadyousef

Graduate Student

Nanophotonics, Medical application of optics lasers, Experimental and numerical modeling of light propagation for medical diagnostics


Rania Gamal

Graduate Student

Whispering gallery mode sensing, Integrated silicon photonic devices, Sensor array design

Master’s Students


Mamoun Benchekroun

Graduate Student

Laser Heating, Fast PCR, Fluorescence detection


Sihui Shen

Graduate Student

Plasmonic heating effects, PCR

Andrew Kirk

Andrew Kirk

Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

McGill University

About the laboratory Director

Andrew Kirk is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at McGill University. His research interests include optical biosensors for point of care medical diagnostics and environmental sensing, and integrated and nanophotonic devices for sensing and communications. He leads the Photonic Biosensors group, which develops low cost and rapid solutions for healthcare and the environment.


  • Optical biosensors
  • Point of care/point of use medical diagnostics and environmental sensors
  • Integrated optics and nanophotonics


  • PhD in Physics, 1992

    King's College, London

  • BSc (Hons) Physics, 1989

    Bristol University, UK


Every year we recruit new students for Masters and PhD degrees who are keen to apply their photonics expertise to the exciting and multidisciplinary problem of biosensing. We seek students who enjoy hands-on experimentation and who also have good theoretical skills and the ability to undertake numerical modeling. Students must also be willing to engage with biologists, medical researchers and chemists. Most new students start in September each year, but we also sometimes take new students on in January. Departmental deadlines and application information are available here. If you are interested please send an email to the laboratory director with your CV and a recent transcript.

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  • +1 514 398 1542
  • 3480 University Street, Montreal, QC H3A 0E9
  • My office is McConnell Engineering #809. Enter the McConnell Building and take the elevator to the 7th floor. My office is on the next floor up
  • Due to the current pandemic I am on campus sporadically. Regular office hours will resume in Winter 2022