Professor Booth read for a degree in Engineering Science at Hertford College, Oxford. His doctoral work in adaptive optics for confocal microscopy took place in the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford. Prof Booth has also been a Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, a Royal Academy of Engineering/EPSRC Research Fellow and an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow. In addition to being a Lecturer in Engineering at Lincoln College, he is a Senior Research Fellow both at the Department of Engineering Science and at Jesus College.
Mathematics, Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Materials, Control Theory.
Light is a versatile tool for imaging and engineering on microscopic scales. Optical microscopes use focused light so that we can view specimens with high resolution. Such microscopes are widely used in the biomedical sciences. Similar optical systems are used in optical data storage applications, such as CD or DVD systems. However, focused light has other less well-known uses. It can be used to initiate chemical reactions that create polymer or metal building blocks for fabrication on the sub-micrometre scale. Alternatively, high intensity lasers can be used to shape objects, by melting or vaporising small regions of material, effectively carving a structure into shape. Light has another useful property, in that it exerts forces as it passes through objects. Although these forces are minuscule, they are sufficient to move small objects in the focus of a microscope. Such 'optical tweezers' have been used to control and sort particles and even to manipulate living cells.
All of these techniques are affected in some way by aberrations, optical distortions that are introduced when focusing through the specimen or substrate. Dr Booth's research centres on the development of adaptive optics for these applications. These adaptive optics techniques were originally developed for astronomical and military purposes, for stabilising and de-blurring telescope images of stars and satellites. Such images are affected by the optical distortions introduced by turbulence in the Earth's atmosphere. The most obvious manifestation of this is the twinkling of stars seen by the naked eye. Recent technological developments, such as compact and affordable deformable mirrors for compensating the optical distortions, mean that this technology is now being adapted for more down-to-Earth reasons. This has opened up the possibility of using adaptive optics in these smaller scale applications.
We are now applying these adaptive optical methods to a range of scientific and technological problems. These range from neuroscience, where we are using microscopes to observe the action of neural signals deep within the brain, to quantum physics, where we are using lasers to create new optical devices that will form parts of quantum computers. For more information, please see Prof Booth’s website