Ali Yetisen

Colleges, School and Institutes

Research interests

My research involves the development of nano/microscale devices, optical sensors, microfluidic chips, and smartphone-based readout technologies for point-of-care diagnostics. I specialize in photonics and biomaterials with a focus on optical sensors that analyze patient samples. I developed several optical sensing platforms that quantitatively report on the concentrations of biomolecules. Specifically, I use functionalized hydrogels, graphene, carbon nanotubes, nanoparticles, and techniques such as laser printing, ho-lography, and microfluidics to create analyte-sensitive optical sensors. These devices have the ability to quantitatively measure pH, alcohols, glucose, lactate, fructose, osmolarity, electrolytes, heavy metals and proteins in clinical samples (e.g. urine, tear, blood). For sensor readouts, I developed a smartphone application that quantified the concentration of the optical sensors using the camera and sending data via a secure network to a centralized database. I successfully carried out a clinical trial of these optical sensors to rapidly screen for diabetes among high-risk individuals in the clinic. My research work in nanotechnology led to a range of novel devices including world’s thinnest Fresnel lens, first rewritable holographic data storage, and first substrate-free photonic crystals. Furthermore, my invention about automated immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization slide staining system has been licensed by Diagnostics Division, Hoffmann-La Roche, under the trademark of BenchMark ULTRA. Recently, my work on the development of mobile medical applications led to a startup company (Colorimetrix) in Munich, Germany. My recent research focuses on the application on these platform technologies for application in minimally-invasive wearable devices with subcutaneous probes and implantable chips for prolonged diabetes monitoring, and contact lens sensors for electrolyte analyses in dry eye diagnostics.


Ali K. Yetisen researches nanotechnology, photonics, sensors, and biomaterials. He was previously the Tosteson postdoctoral fellow at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital.He holds a Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology from the University of Cambridge, where he was the Cambridge Infectious Diseases fellow and taught entrepreneurship at Judge Business School. He also lectures at Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.


Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University (2016)

Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Cambridge (2014)

B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, University of Arizona (2010)

Education/Academic qualification

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

    Holographic Point-of-Care Diagnostic Devices

Willingness to take PhD students


PhD projects

Dr. Yetisen is interested in supervising masters and doctoral students in the following areas:

• Biophotonics
• Wearable Devices
• Medical Diagnostics
• Optical Nanomaterials
• Entrepreneurship