Professor Ze’ev Zalevsky of Bar-Ilan University has been recognized as this year’s Young Nanotechnology Researcher by the Israel National Nanotechnology Initiative (INNI) at the NanoIsrael 2012 international conference. Zalevsky, at just 41 years of age, has invented and developed a number of important systems that use nanotechnology principles to solve problems affecting millions of people, INNI said.

Zalevsky, who is director of the Electro-Optics study program at Bar-Ilan’s Faculty of Engineering and, and director of the Nano Photonics Center at the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA), is one of Israel’s most prolific inventors. He is the creator and developer of, among many other innovations, the “Opto-Phone,” a device that can read an individual’s medical information. The device, which Zelevsky developed with Javier Garcia of the University of Valencia in Spain, can be used to read heartbeat, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels from up to 100 meters away, allowing doctors to dispense with the stethoscopes or blood tests that had been required until now.

Using a laser beam, an advanced camera and sensitive software, the device uses principles of nano-photonics to detect movement on the surface of the body. This movement creates a “speckle pattern,” which can be read by the Opto-Phone. By analyzing this pattern, the system can “hear” the number of heartbeats in a person’s body or the rush of blood in the bloodstream (to measure blood pressure). Zalevsky is working on commercial versions of the system, and INNI said that sales of the devices, when ready, will reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

Zalevsky has also applied nanotech principles to the problem of poor eyesight. A monofocal lens engraved with special patterns shifts the phase of light waves, focusing light from between 33 centimeters away and up to the horizon, and enabling individuals with all sorts of vision problems — presbyopia, astigmatism, and others — to see clearly. Using the system, Zalevsky said in a recent interview, “You will no longer have to move your head up and down if you wear bifocals in order to access the near or far vision areas. One pair of glasses with our interferometric solution will do the job.”

Besides nano-photonics, Zalevsky has worked extensively in the development of nano-components as a substitute for silicon components. Zalevsky’s work is being applied to everything from satellite-based remote sensing to microscopy, as well as clinical ophthalmology. In the area of neuroscience, he has created a “nano-probe,” which transmits light and electrical signals to and from activity centers in the brain, in research conducted with Dr. Hamutal Slovin. In 2007, Zalevsky was awarded the Krill Prize for Excellence in Scientific Research in recognition of his contributions to this area.

Zalevsky is involved in even more nano-research areas, Bar-Ilan University said: Zalevsky and his team are developing in-fiber devices such as modulators, optical filters, transducers, sensors and information processors. They are also developing fiber-related devices with a tapering rig based on CO2 laser and controlled motors. Some of these are being developed for biomedical applications such as in-body imaging, with the nano-probe being used for continuous recording from multiple brain sites.

Teams directed by Zalevsky are also exploring include solar wavelength imaging and remote imaging, as well as the development of remote sensing devices for detecting biomedical information such as blood pressure, heart pulse shape and blood glucose levels. INNI said that Zalevsky’s track record and accomplishments were making important contributions to nanotechnology research in Israel and around the world, and that the award was a recognition by the professional organization of how important those contributions were.