Biophotonics & Analytics: Human Skin


Human skin is a complex organ. The structure and composition of tissue make it a challenging object of investigation. We at HOT are researching optical methods for analyzing the properties of healthy and diseased skin.


Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. The most dangerous form of skin cancer is malignant melanoma. It is one of the most dangerous forms of all types of cancer as its risk to metastasize is very high at later tumor stages. On the other hand, it can be identified and fully cured fairly easily at early stages. The invasion depth of the malignant cells marks the tumor stage and is an important factor for the patient’s prognosis. It is routinely determined by histopathology after biopsy. Optical determination of the tumor thickness would be highly beneficial as it allows better to evaluate the tumor stage at a first visit in advance to surgical measures and to adjust therapy accordingly.

In this view, research within this project is aimed at the development and validation of a method for presurgical assessment of melanoma thickness. In a first project stage, an approach combining different optical methods was realized. In a second stage, the system is to be further advanced for application and validation in a clinical environment. At the final stage of development, the system shall be capable to preoperatively measure the tumor thickness with an accuracy in the order of 50 µm and provide the attending dermatologist with morphological and spectroscopic information to support diagnosis of melanoma skin cancer.


  • Hautkrebsscreening (HKS)
    Entwicklung eines digitalen Dermatoskopiegerätes mit erweitertem Diagnoseumfang für das automatisierte Ganzkörper-Hautkrebs-Screening (Melanom-früherkennung)
    Led by: M. Wollweber
    Year: 2012
  • Determination of melanoma thickness via optoacoustics and optical coherence tomography (OCT)
    Development of a method for the preoperative determination of the thickness of melanoma suspicious skin lesions.
    Led by: B. Roth, M. Wollweber, U. Morgner, M. Rahlves
    Year: 2013
    Funding: BMBF
  • Non-contact dermatoscope for detection and examination of suspicious skin lesions
    The standard method for the examination of skin lesions is contact dermoscopy. With the contemporary contact-type dermoscopes, lesions have to be scanned manually by imaging each lesion in direct contact with the skin. Although established this procedure has several drawbacks as it is time consuming, has poor reproducibility, and may even be painful for the patient. A non-contact remote dermoscope can overcome these drawbacks and furthermore allow automatized screening protocols. Thus, this project revolves about the development of a non-contact dermoscope for detection and examination of suspicious skin lesions.
    Led by: B. Roth, M. Wollweber, U. Morgner
    Team: D. Fricke, K. Bremer
    Year: 2017