University of Bath

Instrumentation

We develop scientific instrumentation from open source microscopes to next-generation astronomical tools.

Deployment of open-source microscopes in the field
We work with partners in Tanzania to maximise the impact of our research

Within the CPPM, we develop scientific and medical instrumentation using a variety of optical technologies. This is often driven by collaborations with other departments and institutions, across a range of applications that includes printed micropositioning systems, distance measurement for precision manufacturing, and astrophotonics. Our work on custom endoscopy fibre and medical diagnostics is described in the medical photonics section.

The OpenFlexure project uses inexpensive 3D printing to create high precision mechanisms for use in microscopy, micromanipulation, and more. These designs are shared under open-source licenses, enabling anyone to replicate, customise, and share modified versions. The flagship instrument produced by this project is an automated microscope, currently being investigated for use in malaria diagnostics and graphene imaging. The same technology can also be used in micropositioning stages suitable for coupling of lasers into optical fibre. These designs can be locally produced in Tanzania on “Retr3d” 3D printers costing around $500.

Astrophotonics is the use of photonics (for example, optical fibre technology developed for telecommunications) to solve problems in astronomical instrumentation. The work at Bath aims to develop new multi-core fibres, and components called "photonic lanterns" made from them, to make improved and simplified high-resolution spectrographs.

Precision distance measurement is increasingly important in the next generation of factories, for example in construction of aircraft and spacecraft with extremely tight dimensional tolerances. Extremely precise point-to-point distance measurements can be made using the interference of light beams. We are working with commercial and engineering partners to demonstrate precise interferometric measurements in the uncontrolled environment of a factory, and working on systems to provide accurate calibration to the international definitions of the metre.