The International Commission for Optics Prize 2014

Congratulations to Professor Martin Booth, Head of the Dynamics Optics and Photonics Group at the Department of Engineering Science, who has been awarded the 2014 International Commission for Optics (ICO) Prize “for his innovative and pioneering research on dynamic optical methods and new approaches to adaptive optics”.

Professor Martin BoothProfessor Booth is a graduate of the Department of Engineering Science (Hertford College, 1997) and gained his DPhil from the Department in 2001 for his research concerning the first application of adaptive optics to confocal microscopes. He has over 17 years of experience in research on optical and photonic engineering, specifically in the areas of active and adaptive optics for microscopy and photonic engineering. His research group is based jointly in the Department of Engineering Science and the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour in Oxford.

Professor Booth’s research primarily concerns the development of dynamic optical methods for a range of interdisciplinary applications. A major application is the use of adaptive optics for aberration correction in high-resolution microscopy. This technique, originally developed for astronomical telescopes, uses adaptive elements, such as deformable mirrors, to correct aberrations introduced by microscope specimens. Spatial variations in refractive index due to the structure of a specimen introduce aberrations that reduce the resolution and contrast of microscope images. Professor Booth’s research has involved the development of new methods of phase measurement, wave-front sensing, and aberration control. This work has led to advances in biomedical imaging, including adaptive aberration correction in confocal, multi-photon and wide-field sectioning microscopy. By overcoming the effects of specimen induced aberrations, adaptive optical microscopes operate effectively in thick tissue specimens, where imaging capabilities were previously limited.

Recent research in collaboration with Yale University and the University of Cambridge has involved the development of adaptive compensation of aberrations for super-resolution microscopes. Specifically, Professor Booth’s group has introduced the first feedback correction of specimen-induced aberrations in stimulated emission depletion (STED) and single-molecule switching microscopes. This research is showing how adaptive optics can transform these microscopes from tools for imaging cells to effective methods for microscopy of thick tissue specimens.

Left: aberrated wavefronts from a C. Elegans specimen. Middle: adaptive optics aberration correction in a third harmonic generation microscope. Right: adaptive optics two-photon fluorescence microscopy of a fruit fly brain.

Professor Booth said: “My group has also made advances in dynamic optics for sub-micrometer scale laser fabrication systems. In the focusing of laser light inside transparent materials, spherical aberration is caused by refraction at the surface. Adaptive aberration correction overcomes this problem and enables diffraction limited focusing at depth. This technique is key to obtaining precision three-dimensional fabrication throughout the volume of materials. Further advances have been made in the dynamic parallelisation of laser fabrication through holographic, refractive, and hybrid methods. These methods permit the control of hundreds or thousands of laser foci in parallel, increasing the speed of fabrication systems. Applications of these technologies have included photonic crystals, waveguide circuits for quantum optics, and diamond photonics”.

About the ICO

The International Commission for Optics was created in 1947. It is an Affiliated Commission of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), and a Scientific Associate of the International Council of Science (ICSU). Its objective is to contribute, on an international basis, to the progress and diffusion of knowledge in the field of optics.