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Developing mathematical theories of the physical world: Open Access research on fluid dynamics from Strathclyde

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Adaptive optics for deeper imaging of biological samples

Girkin, J.M. and Poland, S. and Wright, A.J. (2009) Adaptive optics for deeper imaging of biological samples. Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 20 (1). 106–110. ISSN 0958-1669

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Optical microscopy has been a cornerstone of life science investigations since its first practical application around 400 years ago with the goal being subcellular resolution, three-dimensional images, at depth, in living samples. Nonlinear microscopy brought this dream a step closer, but as one images more deeply the material through which you image can greatly distort the view. By using optical devices, originally developed for astronomy, whose optical properties can be changed in real time, active compensation for sample-induced aberrations is possible. Submicron resolution images are now routinely recorded from depths over 1 mm into tissue. Such active optical elements can also be used to keep conventional microscopes, both confocal and widefield, in optimal alignment.