One of the fundamental quests in science is to maximize the three-dimensional spatiotemporal information retrieved from a sample.

Optical microscopes are the tool-of-choice to study highly dynamics events at sub-cellular resolution in areas as relevant as flow cytometry or neuroscience. However, current three-dimensional (3D) microscopy architectures offer an inherent tradeoff between spatial resolution, volume imaged, and time required to acquire a frame. As a result, several biological processes, including neuronal communication, protein aggregation, or virus trafficking, are currently studied with sub-optimal tools that lack the speed or spatial resolution to fully characterize these key events. Simply put, the absence of faster 3D imaging technologies impedes gaining a full understanding of how brain function, virus diffusion or other fast phenomena occur, and consequently, imposes a heavy burden on the development of therapeutic pathways to treat neurodegenerative diseases or advanced vaccines. 

We make efforts to address this issue by developing 3D microscopes that feature unprecedented imaging speeds

Research highlights

Fast varifocal elements

 Technological advances that increase the speed and precision of light-focus control have opened up new opportunities in imaging and materials processing. Previously, the goals of obtaining fundamental understanding of sub-cellular dynamics and achieving highly efficient laser processing methods have been stifled by slower optics, which inevitably come hand in hand with excessive light-exposure of photosensitive living organisms and slow acquisition of light information. The key to resolving these problems is to modulate focus of light at very high speeds in all three dimensions. 

Acousto-optic systems

Acoustic waves in an optical medium cause rapid periodic changes in the refraction index, leading to diffraction effects. Such acoustically controlled diffraction can be used to modulate, deflect, and focus light at microsecond timescales, paving the way for advanced optical microscopy designs that feature unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution. 

Microfluidics

We develop novel microfluidic chips for analysis and characterization of flowing systems. Examples include the use of rapid micromixing via cavitation bubbles generated with an electrical spark, or inertia-free light sheet microscopes for characterizing fast flowing objects.