About Jesus College/Our community/ People
Professor Martin Booth

Roles and subjects

Senior Research Fellow in Engineering



Professor Martin Booth is a Professor of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford and Senior Research Fellow in Engineering at Jesus College.

Academic Background

MEng, DPhil

Professor Booth read for a degree in Engineering Science at Hertford College, Oxford, from 1993-7. Following this he spent three months at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Goettingen, Germany, researching methods for multi-photon microscopy. His doctoral work in adaptive optics for confocal microscopy took place in the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford from 1997-2001, during which time he was also a member of Jesus College. In 2001, Professor Booth was elected to a Junior Research Fellowship at Christ Church and in 2003 was appointed a Royal Academy of Engineering/EPSRC Research Fellow. In 2007 he was awarded a five-year EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship and was concurrently elected to a Hugh Price Fellowship at Jesus College. He became Professor of Engineering Science and Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College in 2014.

In 2012 Prof Booth was awarded the “Young Researcher Award in Optical Technologies” from the Erlangen School of Advanced Optical Technologies at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. He holds a visiting professorship at the same University. He received the 2014 International Commission for Optics Prize. In 2016, he was awarded an €3.2M Advanced Grant from the European Research Council.  He became a Fellow of the Optical Society (OSA) in 2017.  He is co-founder and director of two spin-out companies: Aurox Ltd., a spin-out company manufacturing high-resolution microscopes for biomedical applications; Opsydia Ltd., which uses adaptive laser machining technology for applications using transparent polymers, glass and diamond.

Research Interests

Light is a versatile tool for imaging and engineering on microscopic scales. Optical microscopes use focused light so that we can view specimens with high resolution. Such microscopes are widely used in the biomedical sciences. However, focused light has other less well-known uses. It can be used to initiate chemical reactions that create polymer or metal building blocks for fabrication on the sub-micrometre scale. Alternatively, high intensity lasers can be used to shape objects, by melting or vaporising small regions of material, effectively carving a structure into shape. Light has another useful property, in that it exerts forces as it passes through objects. Although these forces are minuscule, they are sufficient to move small objects in the focus of a laser. Such ‘optical tweezers’ have been used to control and sort particles and even to manipulate living cells. Light focussed by a microscope can even be used to activate neurons and observe neural signals in order to reveal information about the functioning of the brain.

All these techniques are affected in some way by aberrations, optical distortions that are introduced when focusing through the specimen or substrate. Professor Booth’s research centres on the development of adaptive optics for these applications. These adaptive optics techniques were originally developed for astronomical and military purposes, for stabilising and de-blurring telescope images of stars and satellites. Such images are affected by the optical distortions introduced by turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere. The most obvious manifestation of this is the twinkling of stars seen by the naked eye. Recent technological developments, such as compact and affordable deformable mirrors for compensating the optical distortions, mean that this technology is now being adapted for more down-to-Earth reasons. Adaptive optics technology has been deployed to a range of scientific, medical and manufacturing applications. These range from using microscopes to improve our understanding of neural function through to laser written security devices for gemstones.


Subject notes for courses taught at Jesus College:

See also the Dynamic Optics and Photonics Group‘s website and the Department of Engineering Science website.