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2015 is the International Year of Light

last modified May 01, 2015 10:06 AM
The International Year of Light celebrates a millennium of advancements in optical science and technology and recognises the importance of light technologies in the lives of each and every one of us

Since the invention of the laser in the late 60s, remarkable developments have taken place in the science and technology of light.  Optics and photonics have completely transformed the way we live today, and light transmits signals across the globe at the fastest possible speeds, and new technology developments have revolutionised the way we display and receive information and communicate.  Many of the greatest scientific advancements continue to be made through use of optical technologies. 

The United Nations declared 2015 as the International Year of Light and the aim of the IYOL15 initiative is to demonstrate the importance of optical technologies to modern life. This behemoth international effort, comprising over 100 partners from 85 countries, hopes to expose light technology to the world and give clarity to the people on how vital the technologies are. Interactive events are planned all year and globally that demonstrate optical technologies and their importance for today, tomorrow and for society. Key topics these events exhibit are; energy creation for mechanisms such as solar power and laser fusion; light in the built environment; telecommunications' dependency on fibre optic technologies; life science optics; optics for security and much more.

The Laser Analytics Group is very much a part of this. We use light to research molecular mechanisms of common diseases such as dementia, infectious disease, or cancer.  Optical technologies we have developed in the past inform on the processes that cause pollutants to be formed and help in the design of more fuel efficient engines.  Sensors built by the group enable individual molecules to be detected for medical diagnosis or in research. 

Group PhD students Laurie Young and Nathan Curry have sought to raise public interest in light and optics by organising a demonstration at the 2015 Cambridge Science festival.

The International Year of Light celebrates the anniversary of major scientific events in optics including:

  • 1015: Ibn Al-Haytham’s Book of Optics.
  • 1815: Fresnel’s light wave propagation postulate.
  • 1865: Maxwell’s Electromagnetic theory of light propagation.
  • 1915: Einstein’s theory of the photoelectric effect in 1905 and the role of light in general relativity.
  • 1965: Penzias and Wilson’ discovery of the cosmic microwave background.
  • 1965: Charles Kao’s transmission of light in fibres for optical communication.

The programme of events in the International Year of Light is available here.

The Founding Scientific Sponsors of IYL2015 are:

Click here for Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon’s message at the opening ceremony of the International year of Light in Paris.

Florian Ströhl wins best poster prize at British Biophysical Society Meeting 2016

last modified Jul 12, 2016 05:11 PM
During a successful visit to the British Biophysical Society Meeting 2016, group members presented their work, with Florian Ströhl's poster on single molecule translation imaging being awarded the best poster prize.

The British Biophysical Society Meeting is a key date in the calendars of biophysicists working in the UK, with 2016's conference being held at the University of Liverpool. PhD student Florian Ströhl's work on single molecule translation imaging, in collaboration with researchers from the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, was presented as a poster and awarded the British Biophysical Society's Best Poster prize.

The BBS is the second-oldest biophysical society in the world, with its biennial meeting attracting key players from research and industry from all over the world.

Gabi Kaminski Schierle appointed as Lecturer in Molecular Biotechnology

last modified Jun 29, 2015 06:08 PM
Gabi Kaminski Schierle, who heads biological research activities in the Laser Analytics Group, has been appointed as Lecturer in Molecular Biotechnology at this department - many congratulations!

Gabi heads molecular biology activities in the group and a team of currently 11 people.  She has build up a comprehensive research portfolio in the neurosciences, and applies a whole range of  biophysical techniques in her research to unravel molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration during Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases. She started her career with a degree in Biology at the Université de Fribourg, Switzerland, before embarking on a PhD in medical research at the Wallenberg Neuroscience Centre, at the University of Lund, in Sweden.

In Sweden, Gabi developed a new method to improve the survival rate of dopaminergic neurones transplanted into patients suffering from Parkinson's disease, which was at the time  used as  a successful clinical therapy for symptomatic relief from motor  disorders.  This research won her several international prizes, including a Science Parkinson's Disease Foundation science award. 

She came to Cambridge as Marie Curie Fellow, and gained a Wellcome Trust early career award to begin research into strategies for molecular therapies against Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, the focus of her current research.  She introduced the use of  high resolution imaging methods into the  field and pioneered the use of high resolution microscopy to probe protein misfolding reactions.

Gabi acts as a role model in combining family life with an active scientific career.   We are delighted at this recognition of her excellence in research and look forward to many exciting future discoveries!

Group Formal Hall at Robinson College - Michaelmas 2016

last modified Feb 06, 2017 02:30 PM
The Laser Analytics Group enjoys a delicious formal dinner at Robinson College!
Group Formal Hall at Robinson College - Michaelmas 2016

The LAG enjoying some post-dinner coffee and thin mints.

Traditionally, new members in the LAG will organize a formal hall dinner in their college during their first term to socialize with group members outside the lab and the office. The venue was most appropriate, as Robinson College has a strong representation within the LAG! Our group leader Clemens Kaminski is a fellow at the college, and group members Romain F. Laine, Florian Stroehl, Miranda Robbins, Amanda Haack, and Pedro Vallejo Ramirez are members of the college MCR. The dinner was followed by wine and port at the college bar; we had a wonderful evening sharing stories of our favorite books, movies, and our future plans and aspirations. 

Laser Analytics Group Christmas Dinner 2016

last modified Feb 06, 2017 02:33 PM
The LAG takes over the Blue Lion Pub in Hardwick for the annual group christmas dinner!
Laser Analytics Group Christmas Dinner 2016

From left to right: Weiyue Chen, Clemens Kaminski, Chris Rowlands, Nathan Curry, Marcus Fantham, Pedro Vallejo Ramirez, Eric Rees, Laurie Young, Gabi Kaminski Schierle, and Amberley Stephens.

Special thanks to Oliver Vanderpoorten, one of our new members for organizing this most wonderful evening. We celebrated the end of a fantastic year of research and good news for our research group. The dinner featured a delicious display of typical English christmas turkey with all the trimmings -- and most certainly, Christmas crackers with paper crowns and jokes were included! This occasion also served to celebrate the recent doctoral thesis defense of Weiyue Chen, who performed some exemplary work on functional imaging of protein-protein interactions. Congrats Weiyue and good luck in all your future endeavors!





Sensors Day 2016

last modified Feb 06, 2017 02:29 PM
Highlights on exciting sensors research and applications and the capstone project of the 2016 Sensors CDT cohort.
Sensors Day 2016

Dr. Romain Laine reading the program before the opening plenary session.

With talks covering topics from optical manipulation in optofluidic waveguides, to monitoring temperatures in the Erebus volcano in Antarctica, Sensors Day 2016 was a most exciting conference for students and industry representatives to learn about various cutting-edge sensor technologies. The conference was organized by the management board of the Sensor Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) including our group leader Dr.Clemens Kaminski (Director of the Sensor CDT), and Laser Analytics Group (LAG) senior member Dr. Oliver Hadeler (Programme Manager for sensor CDT). The Laser Analytics Group made a strong presence featuring posters by Marcus Fantham, Nathan Curry, and Florian Stroehl. 

The Sensor CDT 2016 cohort presented a low-cost, open-source Optical Projection Tomography system as the culmination of their summer research work. A combination of skills in optics, software development, electronics, mechanical design, and biological sample preparation resulted in a working system to generate 3D data of transparent biological samples. The cohort included LAG members Oliver Vanderpoorten, Gemma Goodfellow, and Miranda Robbins. Well done team!

To learn more about the program, the topics covered, and the Sensor CDT team challenge, please visit the Sensors Day 2016 website

Alzheimer's Research UK visits the Laser Analytics Group

last modified Dec 11, 2013 12:30 PM
A delegation from Alzheimer's Research UK (ARUK), major sponsors of work in the Laser Analytics Group, come to visit us to find out about our research and infrastructure.

"Tau be or not Tau be" - that is the question Dr. Matthew Norton, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at ARUK  came to ask upon his visit to the Laser Labs to hear about the science that is sponsored by ARUK in the group to unravel molecular mechanisms of disease.  It is also the title of his extensive blog entry on the visit in which he gives his personal impressions which you can read here.  

As a social scientist by training he wanted to experience first hand what it is like to work in the Laser Analytics Group. 

ARUK are major sponsors of our work, among other things our specially designed optical superresolution microscope which we use to follow protein aggregation kinetics in vitro.

 Nathan with laser operated microscopes

Application round open for Sensor CDT

last modified Nov 24, 2014 12:17 PM
Become a sensor Champion and apply for a fully funded studentship within the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies and Applications

Up to 10 fully funded studentships are available for eligible students to enter into the Sensor Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT).  Full details of the application procedure and the CDT in general are available here.

The CDT is open to students with a variety of backgrounds. The first cohort of students is now fully immersed in the programme and currently perform a group research project, building a fully working biomedical sensor from concept to application.  Do you have what it takes to be a Sensor Champion? 

Find out more about the programme and apply now into this prestigious and competitive programme.

Best thesis award for Pierre Mahou

last modified Apr 28, 2014 09:55 AM
Pierre Mahou, has won the ParisTech Thesis Prize 2013 for his PhD work performed in the Laboratory for Optics and Biosciences.
Best thesis award for Pierre Mahou

Dr. Pierre Mahou

This prestigious prize goes to the best PhD thesis chosen from all engineering faculties across the various universities in Paris.  Pierre made pioneering contributions to the field of laser scanning microscopy applications and deep tissue imaging.  He joined the Laser Analytics group in September and is currently developing super resolution microscopy techniques based on the RESOLFT (Reversible Saturable Optical Fluorescence Transition) principle, which includes the STED  (Stimulated Emission Depletion) technique.  We congratulate Pierre on this outstanding achievement!

LAG and MNG members participate in the 2017 Chariots of Fire relay race

last modified Sep 18, 2017 05:44 PM
Laser Analytics Group members Nathan Curry and Pedro Vallejo Ramirez, along with Molecular Neuroscience Group members Amberley Stephens, Nadya Nespovitaya, Ajay Mishra, and Miranda Robbins participated in the annual Chariots of Fire relay race.
LAG and MNG members participate in the 2017 Chariots of Fire relay race

LAGers and MaNGoes participate in the annual Chariots of Fire charity race.

Laser Analytics Group members Nathan Curry and Pedro Vallejo Ramirez, along with Molecular Neuroscience Group members Amberley Stephens, Nadya Nespovitaya, Ajay Mishra, and Miranda Robbins participated in the annual Chariots of Fire relay race. This is a charity event held yearly since 1992 aimed at raising funds for different charitable organizations in the U.K.
The race course is 1.6 miles long and it crosses the city center, along with Trinity, King's, and Clare college. Our team finished in 1 hr 12.5 mins, resulting in 32nd place out of 215 mixed teams and 87th out of 333 overall. The team raised £260 to support a vital project at the University of Cambridge exploring why people with Down's syndrome develop Alzheimer's. If you'd like to donate, please follow the link: Special thanks to Amberley Stephens, Post-doctoral researcher in the MNG for organizing this team effort, way to go Amberley!


The LAG, MNG, and QI have their annual Christmas Dinner

last modified Dec 08, 2017 05:10 PM
The LAG, MNG, and QI get together to celebrate the holidays at Murray Edwards College.
The LAG, MNG, and QI have their annual Christmas Dinner

The Happy LAG, MNG, and QI family!

The Laser Analytics, Molecular Neuroscience, and Quantitative Imaging groups were hosted by Murray Edwards College for their annual Christmas dinner. We had a secret Santa exchange during the dinner (presents range from mulled wine, a cookie jar, belgian chocolates, and even a giant pencil!) followed by tea, coffee, and mince pies. This was a fantastic chance for the group members to socialize with all the new students and post-docs - we're really happy to see a growing group this year! Major thanks to Maria Zacharopoulou, Sara Wagner-Valladolid, Chetan Poudel, and Lisa Hecker for organizing such a wonderful evening! 

Dr Claire Michel interviewed by BBC radio Cambridgeshire

last modified Nov 04, 2014 10:25 AM
In an interview for BBC radio Cambridgeshire Claire Michel discusses her research into the propagation of tau aggregates in Alzheimer's disease.
Dr Claire Michel interviewed by BBC radio Cambridgeshire

Dr Claire Michel

Claire studies the protein tau, a protein which forms aggregates thought to be at the root of Alzheimer's disease. She gave an interview to the BBC where she explains her findings and how nanoscopy techniques can be used in studies of the process of protein aggregation in cells.

The study shows how tau aggregates when ingested by cells in the brain and that this causes a chain reaction causing 'healthy' tau inside the cell to misbehave and co-aggregate. These results were recently published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and received considerable media attention.

Claire works with our sponsor Alzheimer's Research UK and has also been featured in recorded interviews for Alzheimers Research UK, as well as on their blog.

The techniques used by the laser group, so called optical nanoscopy techniques, were the subject of a recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Their application in the study of neurodegenerative diseases was highlighted during the announcement.

Dr. Claire Michel interviewed by Alzheimer's Research UK

last modified Jul 22, 2014 02:17 PM
Whilst attending Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) Dr. Claire Michel was interviewed by Alzheimer's Research UK with the recording of the interview featuring on the charity's website.
Dr. Claire Michel interviewed by Alzheimer's Research UK

Dr. Claire Michel

The clip is featured on Alzheimer's Research UK's blog about the conference and is available below.

Dr Laurie Young

last modified Feb 07, 2017 05:34 PM
Laurie Young passes PhD viva with flying colours

Congratulations to Laurie Young who passed his PhD viva today with flying colours! Laurie spent half of his PhD building a world-class optical super resolution microscope that permits sub-wavelength resolution imaging at video rate speeds and the other half applying the microscope in research to understand the physics of templated seeding reactions of amyloid proteins, the processes that cause toxic protein deposits to be formed in the brains of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's patients.

His external examiner, Prof. Mezzenga, said after the viva: "I am very impressed how Laurie succeeded both in setting up state-of-the-art microscopy technology and to perform top notch biophysical research - both efforts were of the highest quality."

Here you see Laurie branding his new Dr hat, designed by fellow Laser Analyticists Lisa Hecker and Nadya Nespovitaya, featuring elements that came to define Laurie's PhD life: Bicycles, Greek islands, art, laser goggles, and aspirin to keep scientifically sober. 

Laurie has been poached by a young start up company, keen to steal his talents for commercial success - we wish him luck and happiness.

Many congratulations from all of us - Laurie will be dearly missed.

Dr. Weiwei Cai awarded prestigious Masao Horiba Award

last modified Nov 12, 2014 03:33 PM
Congratulations to Dr. Weiwei Cai for being awarded the prestigious Masao Horiba Award!

Dr. Cai accepts award from Dr. Masao Horiba, founder of Horiba Ltd.

Dr. Weiwei Cai has been awarded the 2014 Masao Horiba Award for his pioneering work in the theory of 'nonlinear tomography' and also his overall excellent track record of scientific innovation.

Dr. Cai, who was recently made a postdoctoral By-fellow at Churchill College, combined "nonlinear tomography" with the latest laser gas measuring techniques. This work enables the simultaneous spatial distribution analysis of the multiple parameters including the temperature, pressure, and concentration of several gas components. This work was recently published in Applied Physics Letters [1,2].

Dr. Cai is the youngest recipient this year among all the four awardees. The award represents an international recognition of excellence in the field of analytical science and technology.

Relevant publications

[1] Cai W(蔡伟伟) et al., "A tomographic technique for the simultaneous imaging of temperature, chemical species, and pressure in reactive flows using absorption spectroscopy with frequency-agile lasers", (2014).

[2] Cai W(蔡伟伟) et al., "Multiplexed absorption tomography with calibration-free wavelength modulation spectroscopy", (2014).

EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training announced in Sensor Technologies and Applications.

last modified Apr 03, 2014 10:00 AM
The department of Chemical Engineering will host the EPSRC CDT in Sensor Technologies and Applications which will involve 50 investigators and 20 departments across the University of Cambridge. The programme is strongly supported by leading industries who have committed to the programme with studentships and training.
"I am thrilled about this development", says Professor Clemens Kaminski, director of the CDT.  "Sensor research has become a vastly complex and multidisplinary activity and has to be recognised as an academic discipline in its own right.  The CDT will function like a virtual superdepartment in Cambridge, providing training for more than 50 outstanding PhD students to produce the next generation of leaders in the field."

The CDT builds on the foundations of CamBridgeSens, the University's network for sensor research.  It brings together world-leading expertise, infrastructure and people from more than 20 departments across Cambridge.  The programme will be underpinned by a consortium of industrial partners, which is tightly integrated into the CDT and through its needs and engagement will inform its direction. In the first year of their 4 year PhD programme, student cohorts will attend specialised lectures, practicals and research mini-projects, to receive training in a
range of topics underpinning sensor research, including physical principles of sensor hardware, acquisition and interpretation of sensory information, and user requirements of sensor applications. Team-building aspects will be strongly emphasised, and through an extended sensor project treated as a team challenge in the first year of their programme, the
students will together, as a cohort, face a problem of industrial relevance and learn how to address a research problem as a team rather than individually. The cohorts will be supported by a mix of academic and industrial mentors, and will receive business, presentation and project-management skills. During years 2 to 4 of their PhD course, students will pick a PhD topic offered by the more than 50 PIs participating in the CDT. Each topic on offer will be supervised by at least two academics from different departments/disciplines and may include industrial partners.
"We are now recruiting the first cohort of outstanding students for the Sensor CDT, to start in October 2014", says the programme manager of the CDT, . "Interested students should register their interest with me as soon as possible.  The formal application portal will be open over the coming days."

Eric Rees promoted to lecturer at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

last modified Jul 02, 2013 07:40 PM
Congratulations to Eric Rees for being promoted to lecturer at the department of Chemical Engineering.
Eric Rees promoted to lecturer at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Dr Eric Rees

Eric is active in the development of quantitative imaging algorithms in the group and in applications of microscopy to materials research and biological systems.  He received his PhD in in Materials Science in Cambridge, looking at nanoscale properties of membrane materials.

For further details, see departmental news page.


Florian Ströhl passes his viva!

last modified Feb 05, 2018 02:25 PM
Congratulations to Florian Ströhl who passed his PhD viva on Monday, 28 January. Florian's research
Florian Ströhl passes his viva!

Florian sporting his PhD Hat, featuring jokes and references to his research topics (e.g. frog eyes for his work on the Xenopus embryos!).

Congratulations to Florian Strohl for passing his viva! Florian's research involved both the development of software and hardware for structured illumination microscopy, and the application of Single Molecule Translation Imaging (SMTI) in retinal neuron development for xenopus embryos, among many other projects and contributions to the Laser Analytics Group. 

Florian will continue his career as a Post-doctoral researcher in the Dementia Research Institute (DRI), at the University of Cambridge.  

These are the publications Florian was involved in during his time in the group - truly outstanding work, well done Florian!


Ströhl F, Wong HHW, Holt CE, Kaminski CF, "Total internal reflection fluorescence anisotropy imaging microscopy: setup, calibration, and data processing for protein polymerization measurements in living cells"Methods Appl. Fluoresc. 6 (2018), 014004. PDF


Wong HH-W, Lin J Q, Ströhl F, Roque CG, Cioni J-M, Cagnetta R, Turner-Bridger B, Laine R F, Harris WH, Kaminski CF, Holt CE (2017). "RNA Docking and Local Translation Regulate Site-Specific Axon Remodeling In Vivo" Neuron 95 (4) 852-868. PDF

Ströhl F and Kaminski CF (2017). "Speed limits of structured illumination microscopy". Opt. Lett. (2017) 42(13), 2511-2514. PDF

Ströhl F, Lin JQ, Laine RF, Wong HH, Urbančič V, Cagnetta R, Holt CE, Kaminski CF, "Single Molecule Translation Imaging Visualizes the Dynamics of Local β-Actin Synthesis in Retinal Axons"Sci. Rep. (2017), 7, 709. PDF

Chen WY, Young LJ, Lu M, Zaccone A, Ströhl F, Yu N, Kaminski Schierle GS,  Kaminski CF, "Fluorescence self-quenching from reporter dyes informs on the structural properties of amyloid clusters formed in vitro and in cells"Nano Lett. (2017), 17(1), 143-149. PDF


Ströhl F, Kaminski CF, "Frontiers in structured illumination microscopy"Optica (2016), 3(6), 667-677. PDF

Young LJ, Ströhl F, Kaminski CF "A guide to structured illumination TIRF microscopy at high speed with multiple colors", JOVE (2016), (111), e53988. PDF


Stroehl F, Kaminski CF, "A Joint Richardson-Lucy Deconvolution Algorithm for the Reconstruction of Multifocal Structured Illumination Microscopy Data"Methods Appl. Fluoresc. (2015), 3 (1): 014002. PDF


FPBioimage - take a walk through your data

last modified Mar 30, 2017 10:34 PM
New paper published in Nature Photonics

Novel bioimaging techniques generate enormous amounts of data and making them accessible to the ​research ​community is becoming an increasingly complex task.  The problem is becoming even more acute with the now widespread expectation for open access reposition of data required by research councils and journals.   An even bigger challenge is ​data visualisation, which requires specialist skills and expensive software, unlikely to be available to those who did not perform the original research.

The Laser Analytics Group is at the forefront of developing modern imaging tools for bioresearch, and techniques such as SPIM and SIM can generate terabytes of volumetric imaging data in a single day.  In a new paper published in Nature Photonics, we present a new tool for sharing such data with researchers across the world. The tool is called FP Bioimage and presents a completely novel way for data sharing, even more excitingly, permits the viewer to interactively explore the dataset without requirement for specialist skills or software.  

Volumetric data to be shared is simply deposited on a local server, and can then be remotely accessed from anywhere using a standard web browser.  The tool permits interactive rotation, zooming, and rendering options, and is extremely fast and responsive to use. The software uses ray marching techniques and graphics engines now present in modern web browsers to give a first person perspective of imaging data,  giving an immersive experience and a fuller understanding of the data than would otherwise be possible.

Optionally the method can be used in a VR mode, using mobile phones and or a VR goggle set.

For examples and videos of the capabilities of the programme, see here:

If you have cool 3D volumetric data you want us to host - send an email to Marcus Fantham


Group members elected as postdoctoral fellows of Robinson and Churchill Colleges

last modified Jan 16, 2014 10:39 AM
Congratulations to Claire Michel, Romain Laine, and Weiwei Cai for being elected into competitive postdoctoral fellowships at Robinson and Churchill Colleges, respectively

Claire is a biologist working on cell and organism models to study molecular mechanisms of amyloid propagation during neurodegeneration.  She has recently made the news with her finding that tiny quantitities of the neurotoxic protein tau propagates between cells rather like prions do. Her study was recently published in Journal of Biological Chemistry and is listed among the most read/downloaded papers in recent months.

Romain is a physicist developing super-resolution microscopy methods for the study of virus particle self assembly. Curiously, both Claire and Romain are of French origin, and fittingly have made their way into Robinson College, renowned as being the one with the best food among the Cambridge Colleges!

Weiwei is a physicist pioneering ultra-fast tomography using frequency-agile lasers for flame diagnostics.  His recent invention of frequency agile absorption tomography was just published in Applied Physics Letters.  He won a prestigious EU Marie Curie Fellowship to support his stay with us.

Most read article in Journal of Optics

last modified Feb 21, 2014 09:00 AM
A recent paper from the Laser Analytics group on single molecule localisation microscopy is the most highly downloaded article in the Journal of Optics, achieving more than 1000 downloads over the past 6 months

The paper 'Elements of Image Processing in Localization Microscopy' by Rees et al has achieved more than 1000 downloads in the past 6 month making it the currently most highly read article in the Journal of Optics.   The paper has furthermore been selected by the journal as one of its highlight articles for the year 2013.  In the paper methods are presented for obtaining optical superresolution information from single molecule localisation data and processing techniques that avoid imaging artifacts. 

Congratulations to Eric, Miklos, and Gabi who were key to driving this work forward!

In the spotlight: Optical super-resolution microscopy

last modified Jul 07, 2015 05:20 PM
New modes of optical microscopy offer insights on the nanometre scale, combining the advantages of traditional high resolution methods, such as electron microscopy, with the advantages of using light for probing life and matter.

We develop the whole gamut of advanced microscopy techniques in the group and are thus able to respond flexibly to problems in scientific imaging.  This article focuses on optical superresolution techniques we develop, often in collaboration with leading researchers from around the world.  Optical superresolution imaging refers to the recovery of spatial information on the sub wavelength scale, below the limit imposed by optical diffraction.

Much of what we do in this area is motivated by challenging demands from biological research where processes occur over a huge range of temporal and spatial scales.  For example, the interaction of two proteins may occur on the microsecond time-,  and nanometre spatial-, scales,  whereas the development of an organism from a few cells to a functioning system can extend over days in time and millimetres  in space.  No single imaging modality can serve all questions:  Our strategy is to pick what works best or otherwise to develop new and better techniques.  We are  interested also in applications outside of biology for example in condensed matter physics (e.g. basic light - matter interactions) and the design of functional nanomaterials.

If you have an interest in collaborating with us in this field, we would be pleased to hear from you.  Superresolution techniques we develop include dSTORM, SIM, mSIM, RESOLFT and STED) and we present these below.


Direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy is a class of super-resolution techniques that operates on the principle of single molecule localisation imaging.  Through the use of photoswitchable dyes and imaging molecules one by one,  it is possible to locate their spatial position within a sample with a resolution of about one fiftieth of the wavelength of light (ca10 nm).  We have developed a setup that permits us to resolve two colours and we are flexible to use most of the dyes commonly used in superresolution microscopy.  We develop algorithms to improve localisation precision and speed [1,2,3] and constantly improve and refine experimental strategies in this area.  We collaborate strongly here with the National Physics Laboratory and the Sauer group in Würzburg.

Our dSTORM microscope platform serves equally well for use in other single molecule and high resolution imaging modalities such as PALM, SOFI etc. and is currently lead by Romain Laine.


Figure 1. Elements of image processing in dSTORM imaging [1]

Applications of dSTORM

Neurodegeneration. We have pioneered the use of dSTORM for the nanoscale imaging of neurotoxic proteins [4] and use it in the study of prion like propagation of misfolded protein species [5].  We have recently used 2 colour dSTORM to visualise directly, at the molecular level,  how misfolded species evolve in time [6]. These results provide unprecedented mechanistic insights into the molecular origins of disesases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. This research is strongly collaborative with the Neurodegenerative Disease Consortium, led by Prof. Peter St. George Hyslop.

Virus particle assembly. In collaborations with the laboratories of Dr. Colin Crump we study the molecular structure and function of proteins involved in the formation of virus particles,  central to a range of infectious diseases. This study is a close collaborative work with Dr Colin Crump (Virology department, Addenbrooke’s hospital) and Dr. Sebastian van de Linde from Würzburg.


Figure 2. Schematic makup of an HSV1 virus particle.  We use dSTORM imaging to reveal the spatial organisation of proteins throughout the virus.

Structured Illumination Microscopy (SIM)

This technique offers spatial resolution which is twice as high as for confocal imaging in each dimension and it is compatible for use with all conventional  fluorophores used in biology.  The technique offers superresolution by projecting a structured  illumination pattern onto the sample.  Spatial frequencies in the sample and illumination patterns mix and this shifts high frequency information from the sample into the lower frequency pass band of the optical imaging system; in other words information can now be recovered from the sample that would not otherwise be visible.  The beauty of SIM is the flexibility with which it can be deployed.  We use supercontinuum lasers for multicolour excitation and spatial light modulators to project the patterns.  This permits us to acquire images in fractions of a second. 

A related technique is mSIM (multifocal SIM) which combines aspects of SIM and confocal imaging, offering higher resolution than confocal microscopy and better imaging depth than what is possible via SIM.

 Applications of SIM and mSIM

The SIM was developed by Laurie Young and we use it in a variety of projects ranging from live cell imaging to watching the growth of proteins into fibrillar aggregates in real time.  mSIM is also suitable for imaging at depth for example in thicker biological probes, such as tissue from brains or organisms.  The instrument is flexibly configured and can be switched between SIM and mSIM imaging modes at the switch of a button. We develop our own algorithms and software to reconstruct superresolution images from SIM and mSIM images.  We colllaborate with Dr. Kevin o'Holleran and the group of Prof. Rainer Heintzmann in Jena.


Figure 3. mSIM illumination pattern generated with a spatial light modulator. The technique has similarities in principle to a confocal microscope with multiple illumination beams

Stimulated Emission Depletion Microscopy (STED)


STED microscopy [7shares principles of confocal laser scanning microscopy and structured illumination microscopy.  In traditional confocal microscopy a laser beam is focused to a diffraction limited spot, referred to as the point spread function, PSF.  The PSF has a diameter of ca 250 nm and excites fluorescence in the sample, which is collected as the beam is raster-scanned across the region of interest (Figure 4a).  One can think of the laser beam as a paint brush - the thinner the tip, the finer the detail we can recover from the sample ('Excitation beam' shown in blue in figure below). The trick of STED, or more generally the RESOLFT principle, is to 'shape' the tip into a spot much smaller than the 250 nm diffraction limit, by using a so-called depletion beam, which has a doughnut shaped intensity distribution, with zero intensity in the middle and high intensity in an annular region around the central position ('STED beam' in the figure below).  Superimposing this depletion beam on the excitation beam prevents spontaneous emission (fluorescence) from fluorophores anywhere except in a very small central region, thus yielding an effective PSF of only 30 to 90 nm in diameter (Figure 4b-c).  This permits one to gain information on a much smaller scale than possible with standard confocal imaging. The technique works at a reasonable depth and is thus useful to look at distribution of molecules deep within cells.


Figure 4. Principle of Stimulated Emission Depletion microscopy (STED)

Application of STED to study amyloid fibril formation

In work lead by Pierre Mahou we have built a super resolution optical microscope based on Stimulated Emission Depletion microscopy (STED) to study amyloid fibrils labelled with red dyes such as the ATTO or Aberrior dyes. The excitation of various fluorophores is enabled by a supercontinuum source generated by pumping a photonic crystal fiber and the STED beams is produced by a spatial light modulator that also corrects for the optical aberrations of the system. This microscope has been successfully evaluated with ideal test samples (Figure 5) and is now being used to monitor the formation of amyloid fibrils in vitro.


Figure 5. Evaluation of the performance of the lab-built STED microscope from ideal calibration samples. Representative images of 20 nm fluorescent beads taken in confocal and STED. Typically the resolution in the super-resolution mode is of the order 35 nm, which corresponds to an improvement by a factor 7. 


To discuss potential applications for super-resolution microscopy in your research and the use of any of our instruments please contact the project leaders; Romain Laine () for dSTORM, Laurie Young () for SIM or Pierre Mahou ( for STED. Alternatively you can contact group leader Prof. Clemens Kaminski (


[1] Rees EJ et al. "Blind Assessment of Localisation Microscope Image Resolution", (2012).

[2] Erdelyi M et al. “Correcting chromatic offset in multicolor superresolution localization microscopy” (2013)

[3] Sinko J et al. "TestSTORM: Simulator for optimizing sample and image acquisition in localization based super-resolution microscopy" (2014)

[4] Kaminski Schierle GS et al. “In Situ Measurements of the Formation and Morphology of Intracellular β-Amyloid Fibrils by Super-Resolution Fluorescence Imaging” (2011)

[5] Michel CH et al. "Extracellular Monomeric Tau is Sufficient to Initiate the Spread of Tau Pathology" (2014)

[6] Pinotsi D et al. “Direct Observation of Heterogeneous Amyloid Fibril Growth Kinetics via Two-Color Super-Resolution Microscopy” (2013)

[7] Hell, S. W. et al. "Breaking the diffraction resolution limit by stimulated emission: stimulated-emission-depletion fluorescence microscopy" (1994)

Interalia Magazine Piece on Micro-Choreography

last modified Sep 26, 2016 08:17 PM
Two students from the Laser Analytics group were recently featured in the Micro-choreography issue of Interalia Magazine.

Two students from the Laser Analytics group were recently featured in the Micro-choreography issue of Interalia Magazine.

"The aim of the “Micro-choreography” issue is to highlight examples where aesthetic practice draws inspiration from the molecular sciences and ways in which science uses aesthetics to create representations of nature which are invisible to our eyes - e.g., the dynamical realm of molecules, atoms, and electrons." 


A static representation of fluorescent nano-beads tumbling and diffusing through the focal plane of my light sheet microscope. Each frame of the video was colour coded and the video was then summed to create this single image by Craig Russell

A static representation of fluorescent nano-beads tumbling and diffusing through the focal plane of my light sheet microscope. Each frame of the video was colour coded and the video was then summed to create this single image by Craig Russell








The synthesis from RNA to molecule of individual beta-actin proteins in real time inside the axon of a developing neuron. Each colour represents hereby a different time-point during acquisition by Florian Stroehl

The synthesis from RNA to molecule of individual beta-actin proteins in real time inside the axon of a developing neuron. Each colour represents hereby a different time-point during acquisition by Florian Stroehl


See our new lab!

last modified Oct 19, 2017 11:27 AM
Step inside the new LAG lab in West Cambridge with 360-degree photo spheres.



Visit to navigate around the lab Google-Streetview style.

Superresolution imaging of neurodegeneration - Video

last modified Mar 03, 2015 12:12 PM
Recent advances in optical microscopy permit researchers to investigate the molecular processes that lead to diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Disease in much greater detail than has been possible only a few years ago.

Research conducted in the Group, marries molecular biotechnology techniques with research on novel imaging technologies and this has led to pioneering discoveries in the field of Alzheimer's and other diseases.

In this video Prof. Clemens Kaminski speaks to Cambridge Research Horizons on how superresolution methods developed in this Group can be used in the study of  Alzheimer's Disease.  

More details on the interview and optical super-resolution activities in the University are also available from a recent article.

Contact details

Dr. Gabi Kaminski Schierle (Molecular Biology of Neurodegeneration)
Prof. Clemens Kaminski (Superresolution Microscopy)


Laser Analytics group members win prize for best Masters research project

last modified Mar 05, 2014 03:02 PM
Kadi Liis Saar and Martin Chan win prize for best student research project for their work on the imaging of protein self assembly reactions.

Kadi Liis Saar and Martin Chan currently undertake a final year Masters Research project with us.  Their work concerns the development of novel imaging strategies to visualise the growth of protein fibrils in the test tube so as to gain mechanistic insights into the protein misfolding and their aggregation into  toxic structures.  Kadi uses atomic force microscopy (AFM) to image the morphology and structure of proteins at high resolution and Martin focuses on the development of advanced image processing algorithms that track, in real time, the shape and size distributions of fibrils in noisy image data.

Other students currently doing projects with us are Matthew Vokes and Karol Jaworski who gave an equally impressive performance presenting their work on LED based cavity ringdown spectroscopy of liquid analytes.  Their instrument is based on phase shift cavity ringdown spectroscopy (CRDS) and achieves record sensitivity at a fraction of the cost of currently available instruments, opening up opportunities for use in the field and in research.

The final year research project is a vital component of the Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology Masters course and prizes are awarded for best presentations, posters, and discussions with examiners among cohorts of 70 or so final year students. The laser group is proud of its long list of winners over the years and we are delighted to see success again this year. A particular thanks goes to the day-to-day supervisors, Dora Pinotsi and Weiwei Cai, who supervised this year's students and put in enormous energy to make these projects fly. 

If you a are interested in joining us for Masters of PhD projects - get in touch!

This year's winners in the final year research projects.  Kadi (bottom left) and Martin (top left) win first prizes for their presentations.  Other prize winners shown are Beatrice Ku,  Dharshan Vadivelu, Meichen Lu, Yanlong Choo, Sophie Duffield, and Lauren Atherton.  For full details see news on the departmental website.


Laser Analytics Group running to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research

last modified May 05, 2014 05:23 PM
Good luck to Nathan, Florian, and Laurie who will be running in the 2014 Bupa London 10K to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
One of the central research themes  in our group is the development of modern laser imaging methods that shed light on the molecular mechanisms of devastaing diseases. We use lasers to study the aggregation of proteins and the debilitating effects that this can have in people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.
Not only do we train our lasers in our fight against these diseases, but also our bodies:  Our three committed scientists Laurie Young, Florian Ströhl and Nathan Curry are training hard to run the Bupa London 10k race to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, a charity which helps fund research into the disease and allows us - and many other scientists - to carry out vital research that may one day lead to a cure.
Please donate generously to this worthy cause, via the justgiving page.

Most read article in the RSC Journal Analyst

last modified Jul 22, 2014 02:32 PM
Laser Group's discovery on amyloid fluorescence features among the 25 most read articles in the Royal Society Publication Analyst.

The recent discovery by the Laser Group that amyloid proteins implicated in a range of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, develop a structure specific intrinsic fluorescence featured in a publication submitted to the RSC Journal Analyst that became one of the most read articles of the year 2013.

The work, led by PhD student Fiona Chan, shows that the attainment of cross beta sheet structure, a hallmark of amyloids in their fibrillar state, is accompanied by a fluorecence phenomenon in the visible range. The group has used this to develop assays which can follow the aggregation of 'naked' proteins in vitro, without requirements for extrinsic labels that might interfere with the aggregation process. In a further study the phenomenon was used to make sensitive and specific sensors of aggregations states in vivo, in small animal model systems if disesase.  For an overview of these ideas see a recent review article published here.

Major new insights into ALS and other amyloid diseases.

last modified Nov 05, 2015 05:45 PM
Research by the Laser Analytics Group recently published in the Journal Neuron contributes major new insights into the molecular pathology of motor neurone disease (also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS) and related neurogenerative disesases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

In work published in the Journal Neuron we used a technique called single particle tracking and fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy we were able to track the aggregation state of a protein called FUS inside cell models of disease.  FUS is strongly associated with the pathology of motor neurone disease but appears to have an important function also in normal, healthy cells.  Intriguingly our research, and that of others, show that the protein can form so called ‘hydrogels’, soft jelly like structures, that consist mostly of water, rather like the Jello Cubes shown in the picture above (image credit Steven Depolo).  

These hydrogels seem to be made up of strings of FUS protein, daisy chained into structures that are called ‘protein amyloids’. Amyloids are aggregates of proteins that are most often associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  Usually amyloid formation is irreversible: Once a protein clumps into aggregates, this process is irreversible (leading for example to the formation of the tell tale plaques in brains suffering from Alzheimer’s disease).  FUS seems to be an amyloid with an important difference: It is capable of forming amyloids reversibly inside cells, it’s akin to jello cubes turning back and forth between liquid and gel states, which occurs for example through a cycling of temperature.

In normal cells this reversible aggregation behavior of FUS may have important physiological functions: For example, the hydrogels formed when aggregated may act as a cargo vehicles to carry molecules throughout the cell.  Once the cargo arrives at the correct location in the cell, the hydrogels dissolve, releasing their cargo.   

In ALS linked mutations of of FUS we found that aggregates cannot be ‘undone’ so that FUS behaves more like classical amyloids as found for example in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and this in turn may elicit the toxic response in cells observed in ALS. We were able to show that the rheology of FUS gels changes markedly in certain mutational variants of the proteins, and that gel dissolution was impossible in the mutations of FUS that have in previous work been associated with ALS. This may mean that reversible gel formation is an essential feature for cellular housekeeping functions. 

We used a technique called single molecule particle tracking to show that molecular transport through FUS gels is significantly affected in the ALS mutants of FUS. The technique is capable of tracking the position and motion of individual molecules through the gels to a few billionths of a metre and thus to quantify the ‘leakiness’ of the gels for a range of conditions.  We used fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy on the other hand to track the aggregation state of FUS directly in cell models of disease, using a sensor concept for amyloid aggregation developed in our group.

The research is part of a large collaboration of research groups from the medical, biological, and physical sciences, led by Prof. Peter St. George-Hyslop.

For more information on this research see the University Press Release.

See also

Relevant papers:

ALS/FTD Mutation-Induced Phase Transition of FUS Liquid Droplets and Reversible Hydrogels into Irreversible Hydrogels Impairs RNP Granule Function

Direct Observation of Heterogeneous Amyloid Fibril Growth Kinetics via Two-Color Super-Resolution Microscopy

A FRET sensor for non-invasive imaging of amyloid formation in vivo

Group members involved:

Dr. Gabriele Kaminski Schierle

Dr. Eric Rees

Dr. Claire Michel

Prof. Clemens Kaminski

Malaria research featured on University front page

last modified Jul 03, 2013 11:26 AM
Using advanced microscopy techniques developed in the Laser Analytics group and in the department of Physics, it has become possible to follow in detail how individual blood cells become infected by the plasmodium falciparum parasite, the most deadly form of malaria.
Malaria research featured on University front page

Malaria Cycle

The research sheds new light on the way the parasite 'hijacks' the host cells internal machinery and the curious strategies adopted to ensure the parasite and host cell survive their violent relationship during the infection cycle. For the first time we have been able to understand the mechanisms that lead to dramatic shape changes that occur in the attacked cells upon infection due to osmotically driven ingress of nutrients the parasite requires to grow. This work lead to the verification of what is known in the literature as the 'colloidosmotic hypothesis' in malaria. Even more fascinating to watch is what happens during the very early stages of parasite contact with the host cell: Immediately on contact the cell undergoes violent, dynamic shape changes, which a new video microscopy technique developed in the physics department resolves in much greater detail than has been possible before. 

The collaboration was recently featured on the University’s news site and was on the cover of Cambridge University’s Resarch Horizon’s

For publications on our malaria research see our publication section

Most read articles in Methods and Applications in Fluorescence

last modified Aug 03, 2015 01:11 PM
The recent development by the group of a novel reconstruction algorithm for M-SIM features in the top 3 most read papers in the IOP publication Methods and Applications in Fluorescence.

Florian Ströhl's development of a new deconvolution algorithm for M-SIM based upon the joint Richardson-Lucy algorithm has been downloaded nearly 1000 times since publication, making it the third most viewed article in the journal.

The algorithm, available to download free here, is a  treats the problem like a widefield imaging technique and is more efficient and less prone to artefacts than conventional algorithms that treat mSIM like a parallelised version of confocal microscopy.

The video abstract for this paper has been viewed over 60 times on the journals website and over 90 times on youtube.

Video Abstract


New MRC grant for next generation light microscopy development

last modified Jul 02, 2013 04:05 PM
Profs. Kaminski, Harris (PDN), Klenerman (Physics) and Laue (Biochemistry) received a major award through from the Next Generation Light Microscopy Initiative Programme of the Medical Research Council.
New MRC grant for next generation light microscopy development

Medical Research Council


The aim of the programme is to establish national centers of excellence in microscopy research and to make available to life scientists the latest technological advances in biological imaging.  As part of the 1.9M programme, the Laser Analytics Group will develop novel modalities of STED (Stimulated Emission Depletion) microscopy with the inventors or STED, Prof. Stefan Hell’s group in Göttingen and apply these techniques to problems in neurodegeneration. The grant is a major boost to the Cambridge Advanced Imaging Centre (CAIC) initiative where technologies developed will be made available for use across the university. 

New Paper and Video on SIM Processing

last modified Feb 17, 2015 09:44 PM
Watch Florian Ströhl, PhD student in the Laser Analytics group, talk about his latest research in which he outlines the advantages of a new deconvolution algorithm he developed, to analyse multi-spot Structured Illumination Microscopy (mSIM) data.

Florian is a first year PhD student in the group, having obtained his M.Sc. in Optical Engineering at the FAU University in Erlangen, Germany. His algorithm has been published in the most recent issue of Methods in Applied Fluorescence. The algorithm treats the problem like a widefield imaging technique and is more efficient and less prone to artefacts than conventional algorithms that treat mSIM like a parallelised version of confocal microscopy.

Florian is currently focusing on novel algorithms to improve the speed and resolution of optical nanoscopy techniques, in particular variants of structured illumination microscopy.

Video Abstract


News prior to 2013

last modified Jul 03, 2013 11:41 AM
A selection of our group's news prior to 2013.


February 2011

Theodor Förster 100th Anniversary Issue published by ChemPhysChem


A special issue in memory of Theodor Förster was published by ChemPhysChem, edited by Clemens Kaminski, Erich Sackmann, and Klaus Schulten. Förster would have been 100 this year and the issue is in celebration of his outstanding achievements in photophysics and photochemistry, featuring reviews and research articles by world leading scientists in the field. More than 60 years ago Förster formalized the theory of non radiative energy transfer, today known as Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), a process that is ubiquitous in nature. Today FRET is revolutionising modern biology offering one of the most powerful methods by which information on biomolecular structure and interactions can be gained from living biological systems. Link to Chem Phys Chem

October 2010

IChemE Awards


The IChemE awards recognise and reward chemical engineering innovation and excellence. Now in their 17th year, they celebrate both individual and team achievement. Ssegawa-Ssekintu Kiwanuka of the Laser Analytics group was the youngest ever nominee in the history of the awards at 23, and gained 3rd place in the young engineer of the year category. The award recognises individuals under the age of 30 who demonstrate achievements and tangible application of chemical, biochemical and/or process engineering skills to address important economic, environmental or social issues. Department News

February 2011

Cambridge Advanced Imaging Centre

CAIC small

Prof. Bill Harris (PDN), Dr. Richard Adams (PDN), Dr. C. Kaminski, Prof. D. Klenermann (Chemistry) and J. Skepper (PDN) have together won financial support from the Wolfson Foundation to initiate the Cambridge Advanced Imaging Centre (CAIC) at the University of Cambridge. 
The Cambridge Advanced Imaging Centre is a visionary initiative to promote multidisciplinary working across the University on the application of advanced imaging technology to biology. Physicists will collaborate with biologists to build a new generation of microscopes to solve critical issues in cell biology, develop a state-of-the-art service facility for use by the entire University of Cambridge community, and train a new generation of interdisciplinary scientists. 
The development of CAIC will enable the University to create a sustainable resource for research and training, and position it at the forefront of microscopy internationally. Refurbishment of the necessary space is being supported by a £1M award from the Wolfson Foundation and a £3.6 million comittment from the University. 
Link to Cambridge Advanced Imaging Centre


November 2009

GBP 5M award for Alzheimer's disease research


The Laser Analytics Group is part of a major research initiative led by Prof. St George-Hyslop from the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research to investigate the molecular mechanisms leading to Alzheimer's, a debilitating and lethal disease, affecting more than 450000 people in the UK alone. The initiative was recognised by the award of a 5 year Wellcome Trust / MRC strategic award worth more than GBP 5M. At the heart of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases lies the dysfunction of normally harmless proteins occurring naturally in the brain so that they form toxic aggregates, which cause cells to malfunction and ultimately die. The laser group has developed a novel microscopy method which will play an important role in this research because it allows for the first time the formation of such toxic aggregates to be measured in living species. The research will be conducted in strong collaboration with groups across the university of Cambridge and involve chemists, physicists, engineers, medics and biologists.

Press Release 
Wellcome Trust/ MRC Neurodegeneration Initiative

December 2009

Launch of new website for CamBridgeSens

The web site of CamBridgeSens operated and managed by members of the Laser Analytics Group has been extensively redesigned to provide better access to, and easier navigation within, the available information on the pages and to cater for the rapid expansion that the CamBridgeSens network is currently experiencing. In the only 16 months since its inception, the network has grown its membership to over 380 researchers from more than 10 university departments. More than 50 members represent participation of local and national companies, keen to strengthen ties with the University of Cambridge.

More info 
CamBridgeSens website 

January 2009

Special Journal Issue on Quantitative Fluorescence Microscopy

foerster small

A themed issue on quantitative fluorescence microscopy is published in February by the Royal Society Interface Journal. The issue is dedicated in its entirety to the first International Theodor Foerster lecture series organised by the Laser Analytics group and features review and original articles by some of the world's foremost microscopists. All articles are free to download and more information is found under: Quantitative Fluorescence Microscopy Issue

January 2009

Most Cited Paper in Combustion and Flame

C&F Award small

The Laser Analytics group won the most cited Author 2005-2008 award for the paper entitled "Experimental Investigation of the nonlinear response of turbulent premixed flames to imposed inlet velocity fluctuation", Comb. Flame, Vol 143, Issue 1-2 (2005), Pages 37-55. The work is a collaborative effort within the University gas partnership and was co-authored with the groups of Prof. Ann Dowling and Dr. A. Mastorakos at the department of Engineering, Cambridge. The full paper can be downloaded from: Nonlinear Flame Response paper

October 2008 CamBridgeSens workshop
Recent Trends in Optical Trace Sensing

The workshop focuses on recent advances in optical trace sensing. This event will bring together academics and students of Cambridge to discuss the latest developments in gas and liguid phase sensing. We have the pleasure to hear talks from four invited speakers covering topics such as expanding the wavelength coverage of supercontinuum light sources, spectral broadband sensing in the gas and liquid phase using lasers, LEDs and supercontinuum sources. The workshop is hosted by the Laser Analytics Group and will be arranged in Emmanuel College, Cambridge, on 11th November 2008. For more details and booking see: CamBridgeSens

November 2008

Our research featured in Nature Photonics Research Highlights

Nature photonics

Recent research from the Laser Analytics Group featured in the Research Highlights section of the September issue of Nature Photonics. In a collaboration with the Atmospheric Sensing group of the Department of Chemistry in Cambridge we have developed a broadband trace gas detection scheme based on cavity enhanced absorption spectroscopy (CEAS) and a supercontinuum (SC) light source. It is capable of recording spectra covering over 100 nm in the visible spectral range, encompassing multiple absorption bands of NO2, NO3, H2O, O2 and O2-O2 (oxygen dimer). For NO3, a detection limit of 3 parts per trillion (ppt) was achieved in measurement interval of only 2s. SC-CEAS is easy to implement, robust and precise and ideally suited for multiplexed detection of several species at once. For more details see: Nature Photonics Research Highlight 
Original Paper in Optics Express 
SC-CEAS research project

July 2008 3rd Koerber meeting hosted by Laser Analytics Group


The Koerber project on the use of photonic crystal fibres in biomedicine and sensing is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between research teams at the Universities of BathCambridgeEdinburghErlangenWarwick and Queen Mary University of London. Its goals are to explore the application of photonic crystal fibres in compact super-bright broadband light sources for microscopy, ultra-high sensitivity environmental (water & air) monitoring, and medical applications such as flow cytometry and metabolite sensing. The 3rd project meeting is hosted by the Laser Analytics Group in Cambridge from Oct. 3-5 2008
For more details see:

July 2008 CamBridgeSens - 
bridging the gaps in sensor research


Dr. Mica Green has been appointed as project co-ordinator for CamBridgeSens, a large scale network activity across the University of Cambridge to connect sensor related science across departments in Cambridge. The project is funded by EPSRC and headed by Dr. C. Kaminski and Prof. Lisa Hall to promote an innovative multidisciplinary research culture in Cambridge for sensor research. More information is found in issue 6, 2008 of the University Horizon magazine: News Feature. The project's web site is at:

October 2007

Theodor Foerster Lecture Series


The Laser Analytics Group hosts the 1st Theodor Förster International Lecture series at the University of Cambridge comprising lectures by some of the world's most eminent scientists in biological fluorescence imaging. The emphasis of the series is the quantitative application of state-of-the-art optical methods to solve problems in the life sciences. The series is associated with the Physics of Living Matter initiative in Cambridge. The lecture series is generously sponsored by leading industries developing microscopy instrumentation and the main events will be accompanied by journal clubs, practical demonstrations, and displays of the latest technologies.
January 2008

100000 Euro research prize for Clemens Kaminski

Saot Logo

Clemens Kaminski is recipient of the prestigious SAOT research prize, awarded by the School of Advanced Optical Technologies at the University of Erlangen / Nuremberg in Germany. The prize is in recognition for his contributions in Applied Optics research and is worth 100000 Euros. In conjunction with the prize, Kaminski was appointed as Guest Professor at the SAOT school, which he holds in the newly founded Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Light, Erlangen in the group of Professor Philip Russell.

Further links:
University press release
Departmental news page
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Light
SAOT award ceremony

March 2007 Green Sensors


The work of Dr Johan Hult on sensor design has been featured in the Newsline magazine of the EPSRC. Dr Hult has also given an invited talk on his research at the recent Horizons Event organised by the University of Cambridge.
September 2007 FLAIR 2007


The 1st international conference on Field Laser Applications in Industry and Research took place in Florence and was attended by Iain Burns, Toni Laurila and Clemens Kaminski, who all gave talks. Kaminski also served in the organisation of the meeting as a founding member of the programme committee. Full details on the Department News Page and on the conference website

September 2006 Photon06


Members of the group attended the Photon06 conference in Manchester and gave several oral presentations. This is the largest UK conference for optics and photonics research. Full details on the Department News Page
January 2007 Leverhulme Visiting Professor


Professor Houston Miller from George Washington University is hosted by the Laser Analytics group. Professor Miller will collaborate with us to establish technologies for probing biomolecules using gold nanoparticle enhanced SERS (surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy). He furthermore will present a series of Leverhulme lectures to transfer knowledge in advanced optical diagnostic techniques.
November 2005

Leverhulme Prize

Leverhulme small

Dr Clemens Kaminski has been awarded the 2005 Philip Leverhulme Prize for outstanding research achievement in the development of fast chemical imaging techniques. The prize is over GBP50k and to be used to follow personal research interests. Full details on the andDepartment News Page and University press release .


February 2006 LACSEA Conference


Dr. Johan Hult, Alan Elder, and Dr. C.F. Kaminski of the Laser Analytics Group attended the 10th international conference on Laser Applications in Chemical and Environmental Analysis, which took place at Incline Village, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, on Feb 5-10, 2006. Full details on the Department News Page.
October 2005 Hinshelwood Prize


Dr Clemens Kaminski has won the 2004 Cyril Hinshelwood prize. The award is named after Cyril Hinshelwood who, together with Nikolay Semenov, received the 1956 Nobel prize in Chemistry for research into radical chain reactions. The Hinshelwood prize is awarded by the British Section of the Combustion Institute for outstanding work by a younger researcher in combustion science. Dr Kaminski received it for the development of laser based imaging techniques and their application to both fundamental and practical problems in combustion.

Hinshelwood prize

September 2005 Gaydon Award


Members of the Laser Analytics Group have been awarded the Gaydon Award for the most significant UK contribution to the 30th International Symposium on Combustion, held in Chicago in 2004. The Symposium is the largest and most prestigious conference in the field and the prize went to Sara Gashi, Johan Hult, Karl Jenkins (Cranfield University), Nilan Chakraborty (Dept. of Engineering, Cambridge), Stewart Cant (Dept. of Engineering, Cambridge), and Clemens Kaminski for their paper entitled: Curvature and wrinkling of premixed flame kernels - comparisons of OH planar laser induced fluorescence data and direct numerical simulations, Proceedings of the Combustion Institute, vol. 30 (2005) 809-817. 

The prize was awarded by the Combustion Institute (British Section) at the autumn meeting in Cambridge, on the 12th of September 2005.

Nobel prize awarded for optical super-resolution microscopy

last modified Feb 17, 2015 09:10 PM
The inventors of single molecule localisation and stimulated emission depletion (STED) super-resolution microscopy were today honoured with the Nobel prize for chemistry. One of the key applications of super-resolution imaging, pioneered by the Laser Analytics Group and mentioned by the Nobel Assembly, is the study of protein aggregation reactions in the context of neurodegenerative diseases.

Super-resolution fluorescence microscopy (or nanoscopy) is a key enabler for research conducted by the Laser Analytics Group and we were thrilled to hear today that the inventors of optical nanoscopy have been honoured with the Nobel Prize.

In what has become known as nanoscopy, scientists visualise the pathways of individual molecules inside living cells.

They can see how molecules create synapses between nerve cells in the brain; they can track proteins involved in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases as they aggregate.

The Nobel Assembly discuss work pioneered by the group whilst announcing the award

For more information about super-resolution microscopy and how this is being applied to the study of the molecular mechanism of disease please see our recent feature on this website, that explains in more detail the activities in superresolution microscopy developments in the group.

The Laser Analytics Group  congratulates Dr. Betzig, Professor Hell and Professor Moerner on their outstanding achievements.

Relevant publications

Kaminski Schierle GS, van de Linde S, Erdelyi M, Esbjörner EK, Klein T, Rees E, Bertoncini CW, Dobson CM, Sauer M, and Kaminski CF, "In Situ Measurements of the Formation and Morphology of Intracellular ß-Amyloid Fibrils by Super-Resolution Fluorescence Imaging", J. Am. Chem. Soc., 133 (33), pp 12902–12905, (2011). DOI | pdf | summary

Michel CH, Kumar S, Pinotsi D, Tunnacliffe A, St George-Hyslop P, Mandelkow E, Mandelkow E-M, Kaminski CF, Kaminski Schierle GS, "Extracellular Monomeric Tau is Sufficient to Initiate the Spread of Tau Pathology", J. Biol. Chem. (2014), 289: 956-967. DOI | pdf | summary

Pinotsi D, Büll AK, Galvagnion C, Dobson CM, Kaminski-Schierle GS, Kaminski CF, "Direct Observation of Heterogeneous Amyloid Fibril Growth Kinetics via Two-Color Super-Resolution Microscopy," Nano Letters (2013), 14 (1), 339–345 DOI | pdf | summary

Fritschi S K, Langer F, Kaeser S A, Maia L F, Portelius E, Pinotsi D, Kaminski C F, Winkler D T, Maetzler W, Keyvani K, Spitzer P, Wiltfang J, Kaminski Schierle G S, Zetterberg H, Staufenbiel M, Jucker M, "Highly potent soluble amyloid-β seeds in human Alzheimer brain but not cerebrospinal fluid," Brain (2014). awu255. DOI | pdf | summary

Esbjörner E K, Chan F, Rees EJ, Erdelyi M, Luheshi LM, Bertoncini CW, Kaminski CF, Dobson CM, Kaminski-Schierle GS, "Direct Observations of the Formation of Amyloid β Self-Assembly in Live Cells Provide Insights into Differences in the Kinetics of Aβ(1–40) and Aβ(1–42) Aggregation," Chemistry and Biology (2014)  DOI |pdf | summary

Kaminski C F, Pinotsi D, Michel C H, Kaminski Schierle G S, "Nanoscale imaging of neurotoxic proteins", SPIE NanoScience+ Engineering (2013), 91690N--91690N. DOI | pdf | summary

Further information on superresolution techniques available in the group

We are moving!

last modified Feb 10, 2017 09:24 AM


Powered by flickr embed.

The Laser Analytics Group is in the process of moving to brand new laboratories in the Department of Chemical Engineering's new building on the West Cambridge Site of the University. The lab features state-of-the-art laminar flow climate control and vibration isolation equipment and will be situated in immediate adjacency to the laboratories of the Molecular Neuroscience group.  In combination, this will permit world leading research to be performed to unravel molecular mechanisms of disease, bringing physicists and biologists together in a dedicated new space with world leading research infrastructure.

The image shows our brand new air-floating optical tables which will enhance our capability of recording images at optical superresolution.  Before we are back in business again we have to complete the small task of rebuilding our custom built microscopy platforms, some of which had taken years to develop and put into operation.  The laboratory features all optical techniques of use for live cell biology research including structured illumination, STED, STORM, correlative light and AFM microscopy, selective plane illumination microscopy, fluorescence lifetime imaging, multiphoton microscopy, etc.  

Heroic members of the group have been extraordinarily busy dismantling, cleaning, wrapping, packing, shifting and stacking tons of equipment. The pictures give an impression of their gargantuan efforts. 

Exciting times, and a major boost to our research capability!

Pint of Science festival: Probing the machinery of life at high resolution

last modified Jul 04, 2016 03:29 PM
The work of the Laser Analytics Group was recently presented at the Pint of Science festival.

The Pint of Science festival provides a platform for local scientists to talk about their work to the public and took place around pubs in Cambridge between the 23rd and 25th of May 2016. The idea was born by research scientists in 2012 and has become a global phenomenon, with the aim to provide an unintimidating and informal atmosphere for the public to engage with cutting edge science.

At this year’s festival in Cambridge, scientists were paired up with local artists, who created artworks related to the subject matter of the talks. Prof. Kaminski gave a talk entitled “Watching the machinery of life at high resolution” and presented images of brain cells caught in the act of fighting toxic protein species that cause diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The latter provided the topic for artist Tony White, who produced a series of prints encapsulating the cellular processes occurring in Alzheimer’s disease, the subject of much of the research going on in the Laser Analytics Group.

Post Doctoral Research Position Available

last modified Aug 11, 2015 09:13 PM
STED microscopy development for research into molecular mechanisms of disease.
Post Doctoral Research Position Available

Superresolution imaging of polyglutamine aggresomes in neurones, credit Meng Lu

We are looking for a motivated PDRA to be in charge of the recently developed STED super-resolution microscope in the Laser Analytics Group. 

The research programme will require the further development of the current STED microscope to permit simultaneous two-colour imaging, and the development of STED-FCS (Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy).

 The candidate will have a PhD in Physics, Engineering, Biophysics, or a similar discipline with a proven track record in optical microscopy development and application, ideally with experience in STED or other super-resolution methods, and with ample knowledge in optical system development.

Read the full job listing here

Prof. Clemens Kaminski elected Fellow of the Optical Society of America

last modified Jun 29, 2015 04:58 PM
Prof. Clemens Kaminski was elected as a Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA) in recognition of "pioneering work in the development of optical methods for quantifying the kinetics of reactions in chemical and biological systems".

Prof. Kaminski started his career developing optical imaging techniques for the study of thermochemistry in turbulent combustion systems and he developed a method that permits researchers to  'film' the progress of fast exothermic reactions in real time.  The method is now routinely used by researchers for the study of flow turbulence and its effect on combustion efficiency and pollutant formation and has become a routine tool in research for next generation clean combustion concepts. 

Over recent years his group has changed research direction and begun to adapt such methods for the study of chemical reactions on the microscale.  Together with his wife Gabi Kaminski, a neurobiologist, he now leads a team of researchers focusing on the development and application of modern imaging techniques in the study of molecular mechanisms of diseases.  A major effort is directed at understanding the processes that cause proteins to misfold and aggregate and that lie at the root of diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

He says: "I am grateful and privileged to work with such an exceptionally talented and motivated research team - it's their hard work and achievement that is being recognised.  It's an exciting time for photonics research and we are only beginning to unleash its potential to study chemical phenomena at the molecular scale".

The Optical Society of America is the world's leading professional organisation in optics and photonics, with more than 18000 members world wide.  Every year the OSA proposes ca 70 Members world wide who have served with distinction in the advancement of optics and photonics to be elected into the class of Fellow.  


Disease related protein aggregates develop an intrinsic fluorescence signature

last modified Nov 05, 2013 03:33 PM
In recent articles published in the journal Analyst and ChemBioChem we demonstrate that disease related proteins such as amyloid beta and tau, the proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, develop an intrinsic fluorescence when they form aggregates, so called protein amyloids.

The process of amyloid formation is intricately linked to the pathology of diseases causing dementia, and the finding is a major breakthrough for such studies.  In the paper by Pinotsi et al, we demonstrate that we can study amyloid aggregation without requirement for traditional labeling protocols which can interfere with aggregation and are thus prone to cause false readings, e.g. when screening for drugs. The work is part of a major research programme in the group to investigate the molecular mechanisms behind neurodegenerative diseases and is funded by the Wellcome Trust Neurodgenerative Disease Initiative and Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Protein released from cells triggers chain reactions which may cause Alzheimer's disease

last modified Dec 11, 2013 11:58 AM
A powerful laser imaging technique developed by the group reveals how minute quantities of a protein associated with Alzheimer’s Disease trigger a process which may be crucial to its onset and spread.

In a recent paper just published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry we have been able to show that the protein Tau, a key protein at the focus of Alzheimer's disease (AD), propagates between cells in a manner similar to prion like proteins.   The “prion-like hypothesis" of amyloid protein propagation is still a matter of intense debate in the literature.  Contrary to previous work we were able to show, using high resolution microscopy methods developed in the group, how small quantities of healthy Tau deposited on the outside of brain cells get ingested by the cells, and that this process of ingestion causes the protein to misfold and aggregate into insoluble clumps.  Crucially these aggregates then trigger the endogenous, 'healthy' Tau that is naturally present in neurons to misbehave and co-aggregate with the ingested Tau. 

Unlike other studies in the field on this theme we have not used aggregates as a starting point for these propagation studies and we used endogenous protein levels and not over-expression systems, which can bias the outcome of such investigations.   Not only were we able to observe, for the first time, how monomeric Tau is taken up by cells but also that the associated process of endocytosis, the uptake of proteins by lipid vesicles, is a likely event to trigger the first steps of  Tau aggregation.  This has potentially very significant consequences for the molecular pathology of Alzheimer's Disease:  The mere process of endocytosis of Tau may be enough to trigger its 'misbehaviour'.

Tau is normally an intracellular protein and does no harm, however, if for some reason it is translocated to the outside of cells, our studies suggest that this could initiate the aggregation cycle that is linked to the disease.  It also offers a potential explanation for the known fact that repeated head injury, e.g. sustained during contact sport, is connected to the onset of Tau related diseases:  Neurons which die during head trauma release Tau into the extracellular space and from this point on Tau ingestion by adjacent, healthy neurons, could trigger nucleation and co-aggregation of endogenous Tau. 

The findings were enabled by our development of a fluorescence lifetime sensor that reports on the aggregation state of amyloids in vivo. We have also made use of a novel two colour direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM) technique introduced by our group for amyloid research, a technique that is about to be published in our upcoming publication in Nano Letters

This study featured on the University of Cambridge front website, the Alzheimer’s Research UK news page, and national / international press.

The work was funded through generous support by Alzheimer’s Research UK, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.


Dr. Claire Michel, one of the investigators on the project, at work on the Fluorescence lifetime imaging microscope.

Research Collaboration launched with Chinese health firm

last modified Sep 04, 2015 01:31 PM
The department of Chemical engineering was awarded a major research contract and a donation from Chinese Health company Infinitus. The event was recognised through a signing ceremony with the University's Vice Chancellor on Wednesday the 3rd of September. The deal is worth more than GBP4.0M and includes a very significant donation towards the construction of the department's new building on the University's West Site.
The money will go to establish CIRCE (the Cambridge Infinitus Research Centre) with the aim of analysing the biological activity of polypeptides and polysaccharides derived from plants and fungi.  25% of all modern medicines are derivatives of natural products and a major driver for research in CIRCE will be molecular regulators of protein homeostasis in cell and organism models that offer potential strategies in the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.  

Prof. Kaminski says: "I am absolutely thrilled to think of the opportunities that CIRCE will bring to us and our department.  We are ideally placed  in our new building to tackle some of the very challenging problems that come with research on the molecular origins of devastating diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.   Infinitus is a world leading biotechnology company and I have been greatly impressed with their vision and enthusiasm to drive this exciting new venture forward."


Press release

Superresolution revolution

Research from Laurie Young used in new artwork

last modified Oct 04, 2016 04:30 PM
Imagery of living cells from super-resolution microscopy features in video art piece

'Breaking Boundaries' Soundtrack and Projections- Passion for Knowledge, Festival San Sebastian from Diana Scarborough on Vimeo.


Research from Laurie Young of the Laser Analytics Group forms part of "Breaking Boundaries", a new artwork produced by Cambridge-based artists Diana Scarborough and Melissa Murray which was recently performed at the opening ceremony of the Passion for Knowledge 2016 festival in San Sebastian [1]. The video art piece is an interpretation of phenomena occurring in the nano world and uses imagery produced from super-resolution microscopy images of the endoplasmic reticulum, lysosome vesicles and protein aggregates forming in living cells.

The collaboration between Laurie and Diana begun as part of an interdisciplinary exchange between the often divergent worlds of art and science. The Nano^Art project [2] brought together groups of established local artists and emerging scientists to engage in a series of lab and studio interchanges to explore questions on perception, scale, transformation and self-assembly.


The LAG offers best wishes to Dr. Romain Laine on his next adventure

last modified Oct 30, 2017 11:13 AM
The LAG says farewell to Dr. Romain Laine as he moves to his new position as a research fellow in Ricardo Henriques' lab at University College London.
The LAG offers best wishes to Dr. Romain Laine on his next adventure

The Laser Analytics group enjoys a group dinner at The Punter, a pub in the north of Cambridge. Dr. Romain Laine is holding his cajon on the right side of the picture.

The LAG is most grateful for the absolutely fantastic work Dr. Romain Laine has done in the past 4 years as a post-doctoral researcher in the group. Romain was involved in numerous collaborations, published multiple high impact papers (see list below), and was a mentor and guide for many PhD students during this time in the group. Romain designed, built, and operated a series of microscopes in the lab, including a time-gated fluorescence lifetime microscope (TG-FLIM) and a TIRF( total internal reflection) microscope with dSTORM (stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy) capabilities. Romain was also involved in projects with structured illumination microscopy (SIM), machine learning, optical projection tomography, and time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC). On top of the research work, Romain also organized the day-to-day running of the lab, organized practicals for project or master's students, and participated actively in the group's social and sports events. 

We had a group dinner at a local pub to wish him well in his next journey as a research fellow in Ricardo Henriques' group at University College London (UCL). Outside the lab, Romain enjoys teaching music for capoeira and is a percussionist himself, so the group gave him a cajon (box-shaped percussion instrument) as a farewell present so he can continue jamming in London.  Thank you for your outstanding work! We will miss you dearly!

Some of the publications Romain was involved in during his years in the group are highlighted below: 


Wong HH-W, Lin J Q, Ströhl F, Roque CG, Cioni J-M, Cagnetta R, Turner-Bridger B, Laine R F, Harris WH, Kaminski CF, Holt CE (2017). "RNA Docking and Local Translation Regulate Site-Specific Axon Remodeling In Vivo" Neuron 95 (4) 852-868. DOI

Ströhl F, Lin JQ, Laine RF, Wong HH, Urbančič V, Cagnetta R, Holt CE, Kaminski CF, "Single Molecule Translation Imaging Visualizes the Dynamics of Local β-Actin Synthesis in Retinal Axons"Sci. Rep. (2017), 7, 709. DOI

Nespovitaya N, Mahou P, Laine RF, Kaminski Schierle GS, Kaminski CF, "Heparin acts as a structural component of β-endorphin amyloid fibrils rather than a simple aggregation promoter"Chem. Commun. (2017), 53, 1273-1276. DOI


Laine RF, Kaminski Schierle GS, van de Linde S, Kaminski CF, "From single-molecule spectroscopy to super-resolution imaging of the neuron: a review"Methods Appl. Fluoresc. (2016), 4: 022004. DOI

Pinotsi D, Michel CH, Buell AK, Laine RF, Mahou P, Dobson CM, Kaminski CF, Kaminski Schierle GS, "Nanoscopic insights into seeding mechanisms and toxicity of α-synuclein species in neurons" PNAS, (2016), 113 (14), 3815-3819. DOI

Albecka A, Laine RF, Janssen AFJ, Kaminski CF, Crump CM, "HSV-1 glycoproteins are delivered to virus assembly sites through dynamin-dependent endocytosis", Traffic (2016), 17: 21-39. DOI


Manners I, Boott CE, Laine RF,  Mahou P,  Finnegan JR,  Leitao EM,  Webb SED,  Kaminski CF, "In situ visualization of block copolymer self-assembly in organic media by super-resolution fluorescence microscopy"Chem. Eur. J. (2015), 21:18539–18542. DOI

Chen WY, Avezov E, Schlachter SC, Gielen F, Laine RF, Harding HP, Hollfelder F, Ron D and Kaminski CF, "A Method to Quantify FRET Stoichiometry with Phasor Plot Analysis and Acceptor Lifetime In-growth," Biophys. J. (2015), 108 (5), 2015, pp. 999-1002. DOI

Avezov E, Konno T, Zyryanova A, Chen WY, Laine R, Crespillo-Casado A, Melo E P, Ushiodo R, Nagata K, Kaminski CF, Harding HP, "Retarded PDI diffusion and a reductive shift in poise of the calcium depleted endoplasmic reticulum", BMC Biology (2015), 13:2. DOI

Laine R F. Albecka A, van de Linde S, Rees EJ, Crump CM, Kaminski CF, "Structural analysis of herpes simplex virus by optical super-resolution imaging"Nature Comms. (2015), 6:5980. DOI


Senior Teaching Officer post available for Sensor CDT

last modified Jun 16, 2014 11:17 AM
We are seeking to fill a Senior Teaching Associate position in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology to lead the course development programme for the newly established Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies and Applications.

The successful candidate will have outstanding communication and organisational skills as well as a track record in sensor research.  The role comes with significant responsibility and requires creativity and vision to establish and shape a world leading programme of research training for future sensor champions.  It may be possible to combine this function with part time research activity. For informal enquiries please contact Oliver Hadeler (, programme manager  of the CDT ( or Clemens Kaminski. 

Full details of the position please refer to:

Become a sensor champion: Final Studentships Available for October 14 intake

last modified Jul 04, 2014 12:35 PM
A further contingent of fully funded PhD studentships is available for exceptional students with a background in the natural sciences, engineering or medical sciences from the UK and EU nationals who have studied in the UK for the last three years or who are currently employed in the UK. Application deadline: 3 August 2014.

Are you interested in building the future's most powerful microscopes that reveal the molecular world from the inside of a cell?  Are you keen to learn on how to use 3D printers to make sophisticated lab components that empower your research?  Then come and join the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Sensor Technologies and Applications and learn how to do effective research both as an individual and in a team. Learn the latest experimental and theoretical techniques and then join one of the more than 50 participating laboratories in Cambridge to do the PhD of your choice, tailored to your interests, skills and aspiration.

We are soon closing applications to the Sensor CDT, but a further small contingent of fully funded PhD studentships are now available for exceptional students with a background in the natural sciences, engineering or medical sciences from the UK and EU nationals who have studied in the UK for the last three years or who are currently employed in the UK.

For full details on eligibility and application process, see 'How to Apply'.

Single molecule translation imaging

last modified Nov 15, 2017 12:45 PM
Single molecule translation imaging, SMTI, is a novel technique development by the Laser Analytics group to measure the rate and spatial distribution of protein synthesis [1,2]. Together with scientists form the Department of Physiology and Development of the University of Cambridge, we study the processes underlying neurodevelopment and the formation of neuronal networks in vivo.

 Image caption: The SMTI procedure in xenopus embyos. (a) A fusion construct between a protein of interest and the YFP Venus is (b) introduced into retinal ganglion cell. (c) The cells are dissected and cultured in a dish to study the effect of various chemicals, so-called guidance cues, on local translation in axon tips. (d) This is quantified via the SMTI procedure: segmentation, bleaching, and localisation. (e) Changes can be measured upon cue application even during SMTI acquisitions. Click on the picture for an enlarged version. 

The technique SMTI requires a single molecule sensitive microscope in combination with a fusion protein construct between a target protein of interest and the read-out fluorescent protein Venus. Venus is a yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) that is known for its extremely fast folding time, brightness, yet low photo-stability. The combination of these parameters makes it an excellent probe for SMTI. The fusion protein is introduced into a model system, xenopus leavis in our case, and renders the sample fluorescent. Using a short but intense light pulse the existing fluorescence is bleached, effectively providing a zero background system. At lower illumination powers a readout of newly translated protein can be generated resembling photoactivated localisation microscopy data sets.

The simplicity of the technique allows rapid progress on scientific questions and quantification of protein translation with unprecedented precision. The use of only a single fluorophore per event is a great advantage to alternative techniques, most prominently the SunTag approach that relies on multi-epitope tagging. There, a single newly translated protein must recruit up to 50 fluorescent proteins to provide sufficient signal-to-background ratios. This overloading also has the potential to invalidate the biological significance of produced results. Proper controls are hence paramount, but can be provided by SMTI as an orthogonal read-out.

We are constantly developing the SMTI technique itself further and are also starting to employ it in a much wider range of applications – from developmental biology to molecular changes during neurodegeneration.



[1] Ströhl F, Lin JQ, Laine RF, Wong HH, Urbančič V, Cagnetta R, Holt CE, Kaminski CF, "Single Molecule Translation Imaging Visualizes the Dynamics of Local β-Actin Synthesis in Retinal Axons"Sci. Rep. (2017), 7, 709.

[2] Wong HH-W, Lin J Q, Ströhl F, Roque CG, Cioni J-M, Cagnetta R, Turner-Bridger B, Laine R F, Harris WH, Kaminski CF, Holt CE (2017). "RNA Docking and Local Translation Regulate Site-Specific Axon Remodeling In Vivo" Neuron 95 (4) 852-868.

Sporting success for Laser Analyticist Florian Ströhl

last modified Mar 10, 2017 11:01 AM
Sporting success for Laser Analyticist Florian Ströhl

Picture taken by Pedro Vallejo-Ramirez

Last weekend the handball varsity ​match took place ​between the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford​ ​at the University Sports Centre​,​ just across​ the​ road ​from the new department​ of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology​. 

The light blues, led by our own Florian Ströhl from the Laser Analytics group, dominated the match from the beginning and proved to be the stronger team in the end. 

Over a comfortable half-time score of 17-10, Cambridge beat Oxford in a hands-down victory with 38-26 and retained the varsity trophy in Cambridge. After a long celebration with LAG spectators, Florian, with a total of 11 goals, was later selected ​"​most valuable player​"​ by the Oxford team. 

​Florian is a 3rd year PhD student in the laser group and is currently working on the development of imaging techniques for the study of single molecule protein translation, and has published prolifically already on both theoretical and experimental topics of microscopy. Well done Florian!

Nathan Curry wins poster prize at Graduate Conference

last modified May 14, 2015 11:29 PM
Four group members presented work from their PhD at the annual Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology Department Graduate Conference. This included talks from two group members and a prize winning poster from Nathan Curry
Nathan Curry wins poster prize at Graduate Conference

Nathan (left) receiving his prize

The Graduate Conference is an opportunity for PhD students to present their work to the rest of the department and external visitors. Third year PhD students Weiyue Chen and Laurie Young presented their work to a keen audience on the first and second day of the conference. Meanwhile second years, Nathan Curry and Na Yu, presented posters. Both the talks and posters were well received.

Nathan Curry's poster on the investigation of dendritic spines using STED nanoscopy was awarded one of three poster prizes. Congratulations to him!

Following on from the graduate conference first year students Ashley Fidler and Craig Russell will present their work as part of the first year seminar series. 

Strong showing for Laser Analytics Group at the Microscience Microscopy Congress 2014

last modified Jul 22, 2014 02:11 PM
During a successful visit to the Microscience Microscopy Congress in Manchester nine group members presented their work. This included talks from three group members and a prize winning poster by Dr. Romain Laine.
Strong showing for Laser Analytics Group at the Microscience Microscopy Congress 2014

Dr. Romain Laine

The MMC is an important conference in the Group's calender and PhD students Aleksander Chmielewski and Weiyue Chen were delighted to be given the opportunity to talk on their work on light sheet microscopy and FRET stoichiometry. Group leader Clemens Kaminski was invited to give an overview on the group's use of super-resolution microscopy in the study of neurodegenerative diseases.

Group members Romain Laine, Pierre Mahou, Laurie Young, Nathan Curry, Na Yu and Florian Ströl presented posters on their work with Romain's poster on the use of optical super-resolution to study the herpes simplex virus winning second prize in the bioimaging category. Congratulations to him!

The MMC is the largest microscopy conference in Europe, with key players from research and industry attending from all over the world. 

Sugden Award for members of the Laser Analytics Group

last modified Oct 09, 2014 12:03 PM
Award for the most significant contribution to Combustion Research

The Sugden Prize 2013 for the best paper published by a member of the British Section of The Combustion Institute has been awarded to Dr Robin Chrystie, Dr Iain Burns and Prof Clemens Kaminski, for their article entitled "Temperature response of an acoustically-forced turbulent lean premixed flame: A quantitative experimental determination", published in the Journal Combustion Science and Technology 185, pp 180-199, 2013.The paper presents precision laser measurements and simulations of temperature fluctuations in acoustically forced flames to study the interaction of turbulent flow with flame chemistry.  The suppression of thermoacoustic oscillations is vital in the safe implementation of lean emission combustion concepts, e.g. for aeroengines or power generation.

Dr. Chrystie is currently a postdoctroal fellow at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia, and Dr. Iain Burns is a lecturer at the University of Strathclyde.  Both performed their PhD work in the Laser Analytics Group and were members of the Department of Chemical Engineering.

The Sugden Prize is an annual award for contributions to combustion research. The prize is awarded by the British Section of The Combustion Institute for the published paper with at least one British Section member as author, which makes the most significant contribution to combustion research. The prize is named after Sir Morris Sugden

The prize was awarded at this year's AGM of the British Section of the Combustion Institute.

Super-Resolution Microscopy on Cambridge TV

last modified Aug 17, 2016 02:24 PM
What if we could watch biological molecules at work?


Cambridge TV’s weekly science show, Elemental Ideas, features a programme on Super-Resolution Microscopy.  Researchers from the Laser Analytics Group and the Molecular Neuroscience Group explain how they are working together to develop this optical technique to answer new questions in biology.  By using physical tricks to defy the diffraction limit of light, fresh insights into neurodegenerative diseases are being uncovered.


Contact details

Prof. Clemens Kaminski, Head of Laser Analytics Group
Dr Gabriele Kaminski Schierle, Head of Molecular Neuroscience Group

Aggregation rates of amyloid beta increase dramatically in acidic vesicles

last modified May 27, 2014 02:27 PM
New research by the Laser Analytics Group sheds light on the protein aggregation reactions at the heart of Alzheimer's disease.

Research led by Dr. Gabi Kaminski Schierle, and recently published in Chemistry and Biology, reveals how Amyloid-β, a protein involved in Alzheimer's disease, develops into a pathogenic species. The group has developed a fluorescent sensor concept,  which makes it  possible to study how proteins misfold and aggregate in living cells. Crucially it was shown that the kinetics of Aβ aggregation are vastly different in brain cells, than in the test tube, and further that  the most pathogenic forms of Amyloid-β aggregate much faster in live cells than had previously been assumed from corresponding studies in test tubes. The  technique makes it possible to correlate the appearance of certain aggregate species with their gain of toxic function thus providing a tool  to screen for potential therapeutic agents in  more efficient ways than hitherto possible.

Read more on this research in a press release on Alzforum.

LAG member wins department video competition

last modified Jan 14, 2018 09:57 PM
LAG member Marcus Fantham won the Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology department video competition in December with a short clip featuring the work inside the group.

Congratulations to Marcus Fantham, 3rd year PhD student in the Laser Analytics Group, for winning the Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (CEB) department video competition with a clip featuring the work done in the Laser Analytics, Molecular Neuroscience, and Quantitative Imaging groups. The video showcases the workspaces in the new building (both the laser and the biology labs), day-to-day activities in the group, and some familiar faces! Well done Marcus!