Welcome to the Dynamic Optical Systems Lab website!

Our research focuses on novel optical methods for three-dimensional light engineering, with applications in materials science, sensing, and biology. Key examples of our work in this area include the development of laser catapulting for additive micro-optics manufacturing, acousto-optofluidic systems for focusing and shaping the light at sub-microsecond time scales, and fast inertia free optical microscopes for unprecedented volumetric imaging speed and particle tracking.

Latest news

Video-rate quantitative phase imaging with dynamic acousto-optic defocusing

New paper published in Optics and Lasers in Engineering! In this article, we show how the combination of an acousto-optofluidic lens (TAG lens) with pulse illumination enables quantitative phase imaging (QPI) at rates only limited by the camera frame rate. We demonstrate the feasibility  of our approach by measuring different dynamic samples, including an evaporation droplet at rates exceeding 100 phase maps per second. The ease of implementation and tunability of the proposed system opens the door to democratizing QPI in fluid dynamics, histopathology and other fields involving thin transparent samples.

ICREA Academia award

The ICREA Academia program has awarded Dr. Duocastella one of their grants! These awards distinguish the research career of teaching staff working at one of the eight Catalan public universities.

Optical system for the measurement of the surface topography of additively manufactured parts

New paper published in Measurement Science and Technology! In this article, in collaboration with the company Sensofar SL, we present an optical system that features a large numerical aperture of 0.3 and a wide field of view (FOV) of 2.9 x 2.9 mm. Such a system is capable of characterizing additively manufactured parts in a single measurement, without the need for lateral stitching to increase the FOV. The proposed system exhibits optical properties that provide facility for large-field, high-resolution measurement of industrially-produced additively manufactured parts.

Multiplane Encoded Light-Sheet Microscopy for Enhanced 3D Imaging

New paper published in ACS Photonics! In this article, we propose an innovative method for high-speed volumetric light-sheet microscopy. It is based on simultaneously illuminating the sample with a stack of parallel light-sheets created with acousto-optic deflectors. By using an extended depth-of-field detection system, all sample planes appear in focus, and the corresponding information can be acquired in a superimposed single frame. After applying a single-step inversion algorithm, a stack of frames can be decoded into a volumetric image whose signal-to-noise ratio and contrast are greatly enhanced. The method shows promise toward the investigation of fast dynamic sub-cellular processes in thick biological samples.

Preparation of Anisotropic Multiscale Micro-Hydrogels Via Two-Photon Continuous Flow Lithography

New paper published in Journal of Colloid and Interface Science in collaboration with the Laboratory of Nanotechnology for precision medicine at IIT. In this article, we show how two-photon polymerization in microfluidic channels is a suitable technique for the continued fabrication of anisotropic micro-particles in the sub-10 µm range. The proposed approach could support the fabrication of micro-hydrogels of well-defined morphology, stiffness, and surface properties for the sustained release of therapeutic agents.

Ultrasonic endoscopes for DEEP light focusing

Dr. Duocastella has received an ERC-CoG for his project DEEP!

Acousto-optic systems for advanced microscopy

New paper published in Journal of Physics Photonics. In this article we review the operational principles, optical properties, and recent applications of acousto-optic systems for advanced microscopy, including random-access scanning, ultrafast confocal and multiphoton imaging, and fast inertia-free light-sheet microscopy.

Nanopatterning with photonic nanojets: review and perspectives in biomedical research

New paper published in Micromachines. In this article we survey the physics, engineering strategies, and recent implementations of photonic nanojets for high-throughput generation of arbitrary nanopatterns, along with applications in optics, electronics, mechanics, and biosensing. An outlook of the potential impact of nanopatterning technologies based on photonic nanojets in several relevant biomedical areas is also provided.


We are happy to be part of Organvision, a technology proposal to image organoids in real-time and label-free. The project has been funded 3.7 million Euros by Horizon 2020 under the prestigious FET Open RIA program. Organvision comprises of 8 partners spread across 5 cities in 4 countries: Norway (Tromso), Germany (Hamburg, Berlin), Italy (Milan), and Spain (Barcelona).

Volumetric Lissajous confocal microscopy with tunable spatio-temporal resolution

New paper published in Biomedical Optics Express. Here, we developed volumetric Lissajous confocal microscopy to achieve unsurpassed 3D scanning speed with a tunable sampling rate. The system combines an acoustic liquid lens for fast focus translation with a resonant scanning mirror. Accordingly, the excitation beam follows a dynamic Lissajous trajectory enabling sub-millisecond acquisitions of image series containing 3D information at a sub-Nyquist sampling rate. By temporal accumulation and/or advanced interpolation algorithms, the volumetric imaging rate is selectable using a post-processing step at a desired spatiotemporal resolution. We demonstrate multicolor and calcium imaging over volumes of tens of cubic microns with 3D acquisitions speeds of 30 Hz and frame rates up to 5 kHz.

Variable optical elements for fast focus control

New review paper published in Nature Photonics! In this Review, we survey recent developments in the emerging field of high-speed variable z-focus optical elements, which are driving important innovations in advanced imaging and materials processing applications. Three-dimensional biomedical imaging, high-throughput industrial inspection, advanced spectroscopies, and other optical characterization and materials modification methods have made great strides forward in recent years due to precise and rapid axial control of light. Three state-of-the-art key optical technologies that enable fast z-focus modulation are reviewed, along with a discussion of the implications of the new developments in variable optical elements and their impact on technologically relevant applications.

Printability conditions for an all-solid-state laser transfer

New paper published in Applied Surface Science. Here, we present a theoretical and experimental study on the effects that film rigidity, elasticity, and plasticity play on laser catapulting. By combining the thermodynamic equations of the laser-generated propulsion force with the theory of thin plate bending, we derived an analytical model that fully describes the list of events responsible for disk ejection. The model is in good agreement with experiments using elastomers, polymers, and metals. A complete printability map based on the film mechanical parameters is reported, which can help to broaden the family of materials suitable for laser additive manufacturing.


Dr. Martí Duocastella, Dr. Andrea Marchese and Mr. Christos Alexandropoulos are presenting their work at FOM in Porto

Dr. Martí Duocastella has been invited to participate at FLA-3 in the Bahamas

Blanca has successfully defended her master thesis. Enhorabona!

Dr. Martí Duocastella has been promoted to full professor!

Dr. Pietro Ricci has joined our group! Benvenuto a Barcelona!

Dr. Martí Duocastella has been invited to participate at SPIE Photonics Europe 2022

Prof. Ireneusz Grulkowski will give an invited talk in our Department, sponsored by ERC.

Dr. Duocastella has received the best short talk award from SPAOM 2021!

Dr. Mateu Colom has joined our group! Benvingut a Barcelona!!

Mr. Wei Zhou has joined our group! 欢迎

As of October 1st, DEEP has officially started!

Dr. Andrea Marchese has joined our group! Benvenuto a Barcelona!!

Mr. Christos Alexandropoulos has joined our group! Καλωσόρισες!!

Dr. Martí Duocastella will present a review paper on photonic nanojets for nanopatterning at ICALEO 2021!

As of July 1st, OrganVision has officially started! Congratulations to all the consortium members

Dr. Martí Duocastella has been invited to participate in the 2nd International Workshop on Frontiers in Lasers and Applications (FLA-2)

Alessandro Zunino has won Best Presentation Award at SPIE Photonics West 2021! Congratulations!