Structured light: Seeing less to see more in optical microscopy

Structured light: Seeing less to see more in optical microscopy

Microsoft Research is delighted to announce the inaugural talk in a new series of public lectures at our lab near Cambridge Station. On Monday 18 March at 4:00pm Mark Neil, Professor of Photonics at Imperial College London, will talk about “Structured light: seeing less to see more in optical microscopy”.

Dates 18 Mar 2019 - This event is in the past.
Opening times 16:00-17:15
Venue Microsoft Research, 21 Station Road, Cambridge CB1 2FB

Event details:

The title of the series as a whole is Optics for the Cloud, which reflects the fact that disruptive trends in optics and photonics are changing the way we think and work.  Mark’s talk should have a wide appeal across the physical, biological and medical sciences. It’s free and there will be a chance to meet the speaker over refreshments afterwards.  Click here to register your interest.


The Optics for the Cloud talk series brings leading researchers in the field for a public lecture on cutting edge topics…

Structured light: seeing less to see more in optical microscopy

Professor of Photonics, Mark Neil
Imperial College London

Monday 18 March 2019

Followed by refreshments

Microsoft Research
21 Station Road
Cambridge CB1 2FB

If you wish to attend please register your interest here


Optical microscopy techniques can be greatly enhanced from simply imaging what you see in the focus of a microscope objective by structuring the light that you use to illuminate the object.  The classic example of this is the confocal microscope where a point illumination is used with a point detector to reject light that comes from outside the focal plane.  That technique enables high-contrast, three-dimensional imaging of an object, and can even achieve an improvement in resolution.  This talk covers a range of techniques, some wide-field and some point scanning, but all loosely based on the confocal principle, that can achieve or even better the performance of the classic confocal microscope.  While the confocal microscope most benefitted from the invention of the laser, we show how it is developments in optical components, detector technology and computational power that are enabling more recent developments, and opening up new possibilities for applications such as optical data storage.


Mark Neil studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge before pursuing his PhD in optical information processing at the Engineering Department there.  Moving then to the Department of Engineering Science at Oxford University he continued his work in optics as a post-doctoral researcher and college lecturer, before joining the Photonics Group in the Physics Department at Imperial in 2002, where he became Professor in 2009.

With such a broad academic background it is hardly surprising that he often finds himself working in multidisciplinary projects alongside engineers, medics, chemists and biologists and on problems as diverse as studying the inner workings of cancer cells to the manufacture of mirrors for forthcoming generations of extremely large astronomical telescopes.  While imaging, microscopy and metrology are the mainstays of his work, underpinning this are technologies that enable the control of light by computer that are now changing how we view the potential applications of optical system. 

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The Microsoft Research Cambridge laboratory was set up in July 1997 and was Microsoft Corporation's first research laboratory established outside the United States. Today, 100 researchers, mostly from Europe, are engaged in computer research at the lab.

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