End of summer update

Today was the last quiet day on campus before the freshers descend on Canterbury for Arrivals Weekend. A particular welcome to the 120 or so joining our first year physics undergraduate programmes, I look forward to seeing you all for the special relativity course starting in Week 3. With the long, hot summer now well and truly over, and an Autumn chill in the air, I thought I’d round-up some of the research we’ve being getting on with while the students have been away.

After Chai joined me as a postdoc in June, we’ve accelerated the ‘microscope in a needle’ project. In mid-August my lab’s achieved its first fluorescence microscopy image transmitted through a single core multimode fibre needle with a core diameter of just 50 microns. This was just our proof-of-concept – we’re nowhere near competitive with other state-of-the art approaches in terms of image quality or frame rate yet – but it means we achieved the first the project milestone with a couple of months to spare. Over the next couple of months we’ll be continuing to work on this single core fibre system and extending what we’ve learnt to multi-core fibres.

We took delivery of a Meadowlark spatial light modulator in July. This allows us to generate light fields with programmable phase, allowing us to do kinds of things with complex photonics. We’ve set up an off-axis interferometer so that we can measure the complex fields we create and are making a start on a couple of projects using this system, although nothing we’re ready to publicise quite yet.

In June I co-organised at workshop on advanced biophotonics techniques as part of the Hamlyn Symposium in London. Thanks to lots of people saying ‘yes’ we managed to assemble a great line-up for a one-day workshop, including Prof Adrian Podoleanu, also from Kent, who agreed to give a talk on OCT and chair a session. in fact it was hard to select members of the closing panel discussion I was chairing without it becoming larger than the audience!

We also had a few small events going on here in Canterbury. The new(ish) Vice Chancellor of the University came for a tour of the Applied Optics Group labs, and we also had a few others visits, including from research services staff and children from a nearby school. The group hosted several academics visitors, including Kevin Tsia from Hong Kong, Virgil Duma from the University of Arad in Romania, and Grigory Gelikonov from the Institute of Applied Physics in Russia, who all obliged with excellent talks.

In collaboration with the Hamlyn Centre at Imperial College I published a paper on resolution enhancement in fibre bundle endomicroscopes in early September. This was something we had been thinking about and working on for a long time, but it was Khushi Vyas’s excellent experimental work, with support from Bruno Rosa on the electronics, which finally showed that our approach worked. Interestingly, Shih Chi Chen’s group from Hong Kong published a similar idea at almost exactly the same time. As their work was a letter, and ours a full paper, and there were some substantial differences between our approaches, we might still have been able to publish, but it shows the importance of not waiting too long when you have exciting results – get them out before you’re scooped! We also ran some other joint robotic imaging experiments with Imperial College over the summer, related to the ongoing REBOT lung imaging project. Unfortunately this will have to stay under-wraps for the time being as we are working on some publications.

With teaching responsibilities this term I’ll have a bit less time to be in the lab, but with projects progressing well we should had some news of new results and papers soon.  I’ll also be welcoming a Physics MPhys student to my lab for their PH700 project, and we have three new members of the Applied Optics Group (plus another three MPhys students), so there will be plenty going on, so look out for more posts soon.