Applied Optics Group

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Mike Hughes – Research

My lab develops high-resolution imaging technology for biomedical applications. We want to make microscopic imaging more accessible and practical in non-traditional settings such as point-of-care imaging. We aim to use computational imaging techniques to achieve performance similar to large and expensive bench-top microscopes, but in low-cost, small form-factor devices.

More details on my current research are below. For information on my background and university roles, including teaching, and a list of publications, see my school profile page.  Some software developed in the lab is also available for download, or you can look at current projects on Github.


EPSRC PhD Studentship Available, Deadline 24th March 2024

I will advertise funded positions when available, and I can offer projects for Masters or PhD students who are seeking funding through scholarship schemes or who are self funded. There are typically several EPSRC studentships available at the University, advertised around January, as well as various other scholarships. Please contact me if you are interested and would like some advice. Some example projects, adaptable for PhD or MSc degrees, are below, but I’m happy to discuss other possibilities, please get in touch. I’m also keen to here from prospective students who have an interest in applying machine learning to some of these topics.

Summer internships can also be offered for current undergraduate students, an example report from a previous intern can be read here.


We work on hardware and software for imaging and microscopy. Most of our software is open source on Github.

Endoscopic Microscopy

Endoscopic microscopes (or endomicroscopes) allow us to image tissue at high resolution. I work on the development of new techniques for fibre bundle based endomicroscopes,  enhancing the resolution and optical strengthening power, and on making devices lower cost and more accessible. As a postdoc at Imperial College, I developed a technique for achieving very high frame rate optically-sectioned fluorescence endomicroscopy (Paper1, Paper2) and worked on a study for the Gates Foundation on potential applications in gut dysfunction [Paper]. At Kent we have recently developed a new approach which allows a computational sectioning technique, structured illumination endomicroscopy, to be used with a moving probe [Paper], made further improvements to line-scanning endomicroscopy [Paper], and developed a Python package for working with bundles [Paper]. I also have an interest in simple white light microscopy via fibre bundles [Paper1, Paper2] .


Fibre bundle endomicroscope inside an endoscope

Holographic Microscopy

Inline Holographic microscopy is a type of computational microscopy which is lensless – images are synthesise from holograms. This has some major advantages in terms of building a small, compact, and low-cost microscope. It also allows us to numerically refocus the images: a single hologram can subsequently focused to any position we wish.

We have recently developed a new method for building miniature holographic microscopes using fibre bundles [Paper], and with funding from the Royal Society we are now building prototypes, working on improved resolution [Paper] and depth range [Proceeedings], and exploring potential applications.

Lillium anther on a slide imaged through fibre bundle inline holographic microscopy, using resolution enhancement.

Microscope in a Needle

To build a useful needle microscope, able to image deep inside tissue with minimal invasiveness, we need to make a high-resolution image conduit which is less than a few hundred microns in diameter. With previous funding from EPSRC, we are exploring ways of transmitting images through single-core multimode fibres by exploiting interference between the fibre modes [Paper]. Read More.

Needle microscope held in a gloved hand.

Fibre microscopy in a needle.

Robotic Microscopy and Imaging

While working at the Hamlyn Centre for Robotic Surgery at Imperial College London with Prof Guang-Zhong Yang I developed an interest in robot-guided imaging probes [Paper1, Paper2, Paper3, Paper4, Paper5]. I later collaborated with Prof Adrian Podoleanu at Kent and a team from the Hamlyn Centre on the REBOT Project (Robotic Endobronchial Optical Tomography) to develop robot-guided imaging probes [Paper], particularly for the lung. We are now working with King’s College London and Moorfields Eye Hospital to integrate sensing and imaging probes into robotic opthalmic surgery (Press Release).

Robotic OCT and fluorescence imaging, developed in collaboration with Hamlyn Centre, Imperial College London.


Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)

Kent is a well-known for it’s OCT research and I also contribute in in this area. I am co-investigator on grants on endoscopic OCT (EPSRC) and applications of OCT in agriculture (BBSRC) and hold a small BBSRC Impact Accelerator grant to develop a low-cost OCT.  I have also collaborated on projects relating to  speckle reduction in OCT [Paper].