The SUPA INSPIRE scheme funded a six month secondment for a research physicist from the Institute of Photonics, University of Strathclyde, to work in collaboration with the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research and Coherent Scotland Ltd.
Coherent Scotland is a market-leading company specialising in the development and production of solid state lasers, including high power, short pulse, mode-locked, diode-pumped lasers, ultra-narrow linewidth Ti:Sapphire lasers and resonant frequency doublers. The Chameleon range of Ti:Sapphire lasers have been an outstanding technological and commercial success for Coherent Scotland Ltd having shipped more than 1,000 systems worldwide.
The Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Bearsden, Glasgow, a research unit core funded by Cancer Research UK, investigates key aspects of cancer cell behaviour using advanced imaging methods and translates this knowledge into new therapies and diagnostic tools.
The Institute of Photonics (IoP) is a commercially oriented research unit and a hub for world class research with strong collaborations between academia, business, industry and the public sector. Amongst a broad portfolio of research undertaken at the IoP, one branch specialises on biophotonics including optogenetics, optical microscopy and adaptive optics.
Under the INSPIRE scheme, Dr Caroline Müllenbroich, a research associate at the IoP, was seconded to Coherent Scotland Ltd. to gain better insights into the latest advances of generating high quality images for customers in microscopy applications. Using Coherent Scotland Ltd. light sources, a state-of-the-art multiphoton microscope was combined with adaptive optics elements to increase the signal to noise ratio of images at depth (Figure 1). Adaptive optics systems are suitable to compensate for optical aberrations in imaging systems and restore resolution and signal intensity.
Caroline performed system development and testing and consequently demonstrated the benefits of aberration corrected images in organotypic tissue cultures at depths of up to 150µm. Caroline also provided user-friendly, custom written LabVIEW tools for the utilisation of the adaptive optics microscope system and was crucially involved in the further development of a collaboration between the Beatson and Coherent Scotland Ltd.
This secondment has proven to be a great success for all parties involved, leading to immediate results which were used for grant applications, the publication of a peer-reviewed paper and the dissemination at a major international conference. The secondment also provided valuable experience for Caroline personally: “This SUPA INSPRIRE grant allowed me to gain a commercially orientated mind set, work at the fore-front of microscope technology development and present our work to the international community.”