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Structured light: seeing less to see more in optical microscopy

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Optical microscopy techniques can be greatly enhanced from simply imaging what you see in the focus of a microscope objective by structuring the light that you use to illuminate the object. The classic example of this is the confocal microscope where a point illumination is used with a point detector to reject light that comes from outside the focal plane. That technique enables high-contrast, three-dimensional imaging of an object, and can even achieve an improvement in resolution. This talk covers a range of techniques, some wide-field and some point scanning, but all loosely based on the confocal principle, that can achieve or even better the performance of the classic confocal microscope. While the confocal microscope most benefitted from the invention of the laser, we show how it is developments in optical components, detector technology and computational power that are enabling more recent developments, and opening up new possibilities for applications such as optical data storage.

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