Scientific vision

Novel imaging approaches are increasingly important in many disciplines and are essential for overcoming the challenges of the modern world. Many urgent challenges, especially in biomedicine, such as cancer, are most efficiently addressed by light microscopy. Therefore, our research focuses on novel light microscopy techniques and their applications, and, importantly, relevant topics in fundamental optics that can yield important impulses and solutions for our development.

Our strength will be in the novel imaging techniques benefiting from our theoretical results and being directly utilized in biomedicine and materials science. At the same time, the unmet requirements from the application fields influence our direction of development, which in turn stimulates the theoretical effort.  

Novel approaches will be developed in Holographic Incoherent-light-source Quantitative Phase Imaging (hiQPI) using our extensive expertise with optical design, 4G/ metasurface/ geometric-phase optics, vortex and other specialized beams, coherence gating, light propagation in inhomogeneous and multilayer structures, superresolution and optical-instrument design and assembly using 3D printing and machining.

Our ultimate goal is to advance hiQPI to a fully recognized and popular imaging technique, especially in biomedical research. This will be achieved by enabling easy-to-use super-resolution and 3D imaging capabilities, including imaging in turbid media. Holographic tomography and Z-stacking approaches will be compared and potentially combined, supported with novel strategies of 3D refractive-index profile reconstruction based on transformation and non-Euclidean optics. Imaging in the turbid medium will be newly achieved by transmission-matrix measurement

Importantly, the extended hiQPI capabilities will enable us to measure cell behavior not only in monolayer culture but also in tissue fragments and 3D extracellular matrices. This will particularly accelerate our cancer research in personalized treatment utilizing patient biopsy, testing novel drugs suppressing cell motility with a potential for the treatment of invasion and metastasis, and studying intrinsic subcellular mechanical forces as a deeper level of possible therapeutic targets.

A recently developed new hiQPI instrument [Bouchal et al., 2019c] will allow the fabrication of dedicated 4G optical elements, improving optical performance and introducing new functionalities to imaging instruments developed in our group. The principles of hiQPI, previously applied in geometric-phase imaging, will be further developed to explore photoluminescent materials. This follow-up research is motivated by the potential of holographic experiments for the fast and reliable study of various biological and artificial samples through their polarization anisotropies. In addition to the holographic research of conformation through polarization-sensitive fluorescence imaging of biological cells, these experiments will also investigate modern materials, including hexagonal boron nitride and other candidates for single-photon emitters.

Our expertise is going to be continuously strengthened by our work in fundamental optics, including unconventional imaging and computer simulations of light-wave propagation in photonic structures and inhomogeneous media

Building a team of solvers composed of all professions like physicists, engineers, statisticians, biologists and medics, is essential for the final success. In our team, each member should be firmly anchored in his/her specialization and qualified to understand the other views in order to create inclusive plans for solutions to the problems tackled.