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Local scientist works with amazing laser


Last updated 7/31/2008 at Noon


Fallbrook resident Sam Crivello is one of the masterminds behind the creation of a superior molecular and detection imaging instrument. This device is shouldering its way through the areas of biomedical, military, homeland security and industrial applications.

Behind the genius of this tunable laser are the founders of Daylight Solutions: Tim Day, PhD; Sam Crivello, MS; and Paul Larson, MBA.

“I went to college with Tim at San Diego State University,” said Crivello, senior staff scientist of Daylight Solutions. “Tim earned his PhD at Stanford and I call him the father of tunable lasers.”

In essence, Daylight Solutions has taken a Quantum Cascade Laser, made it tunable and created a molecular detection and imaging device. The size of this instrument is small and portable.

“Think of our laser like a radio dial,” said Crivello. “You can tune our laser on different wave lengths.”

All molecules have a unique signature, explained Crivello, and depending on what molecule needs to be detected, it can be recorded onto the laser.

“The laser records a molecule in the lab; its signature is recorded and then you go out into the world and look for it,” he said.

Their laser cannot only detect the molecule(s) but can ascertain the quantity present.

In the medical field, Daylight Solutions offers much hope for the future. Crivello’s own father, a diabetic who pricks his finger on a daily basis for blood glucose readings, cannot wait until a laser can relieve him of the painful procedure.

“Using our lasers, a person can read the glucose off the white part of their eye because the tear has the same sugar content,” said Crivello.

Another prototype they are working on, he said, is a probe that touches the skin and reads the glucose level.

Daylight Solutions, otherwise known as intellectual properties, joins forces with particular companies with the engineering ability to create the end product and then proceeds through the FDA approval process.

“We have also gone to the world leader in breath analysis, Dr. Risby at John Hopkins University,” said Crivello, who explained there are 38 health markers in an individual’s breath. Their laser, he said, can be used as a tool in the breath analysis to determine the status of a patient’s kidney and/or function and lining of the lungs.

After a patient breathes into a device for a minute or so, the laser analyzes it and provides comprehensive information. “The doctor will have a full readout for respiration, circulatory system, nervous system and organ function,” said Crivello.

This particular type of laser imaging, he said, also has the potential to pick up on some cancer cells. For example, rather than undergoing an invasive cervical biopsy, this laser can be utilized. “A doctor will be able to tell if the tissue is cancerous right away by the way it illuminates at a certain wavelength.”

The tunable laser can also be used topically to detect skin cancer without lancing the area for a biopsy.

Some of these projects are still in the infancy stage, but by teaming up with the leaders in a particular field, Daylight Solutions is quickly gaining recognition and respect and offering advancements in medicine.

This laser is also being prototyped for military and homeland security venues. Because of its tunability and ability to detect molecules, identifying an IED (improvised explosive device) can be done from 80 to 150 feet away.

“As someone scans the road ahead of them, they can see the plume of chemicals coming out of the ground with our laser,” explained Crivello.

A safety item such as this could save the lives of many soldiers and civilians. The laser can also detect bombs, nuclear materials and nerve gas residue.

Daylight Solutions was launched in 2004 and the founders are delighted with the progress they have made to date. “We are very happy and we are really having a good time,” Crivello said.

Crivello is married to native resident Tara Boyce-Crivello, owner of the Fallbrook Yoga Center. “I met Tara through yoga and she is my peace, calm and stability in this crazy world,” said Crivello.

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