From Telescope to Microscope...
Astronomy technology sheds new light on Biology

Fluorescein fluorescence on the our microscope - the imaging of stars and fluorescent particles involves some similar challengesThe ability to accurately track the movement of fluorescent particles in four dimensions (3D and time) is of vital importance to many applications in both cell and molecular biology. This is a highly challenging task; the light levels generated by fluorescent particles are typically very low and the live-cell is a turbid medium, densely packed with vast numbers of components that are in continual motion.

The challenges associated with this application in biology have much in common with astronomy, where the imaging of faint objects through a turbulent atmosphere has been an area of extensive research for decades.

Through two STFC funded programmes (ST/F003463/1 & ST/F001754/1) we have successfully applied adaptive optics technology developed for astronomy to the problems of imaging 3D and time-varying processes in biology. Furthermore, we have demonstrated that Image Sharpness, an algorithm originally used to aid telescope focussing, can provide fast, simple and accurate particle tracking.

In collaboration with biology and medical research teams across the UK these STFC funded programmes have resulted in a synthesis of astronomy and biology technology that has opened new horizons for research at the life-sciences interface.

Our latest STFC funded grant, which began in November 2009, will apply these techniques to study sperm motility for human fertility research. In these pages you can find information on all these different aspects of our current research including background information, access to our latest results and publications, and suggestions for further reading.

For examples of live-cell images captured using our technique and our latest exciting results, visit our image gallery.

Interested?...Contact us!

Would you like to try our 3D imaging or particle tracking in your application? If so, we want to hear from you! This work has been driven in exciting new directions through our many rewarding collaborations. We are always interested to hear from new people and explore new avenues of research. We welcome visitors; please contact us if you'd like to arrange a visit. Our equipment is highly portable, so please get in touch if you'd like to arrange a demonstration visit.

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Our Research

Find information on our current research projects, and our research interests both past and present...

Life Sciences Interface