Welcome to the website for the Optical Manipulation Group at the University of St Andrews

The Optical Manipulation Group works in a variety of research areas of optical physics and biophysics.  Our research is focused on the development of optical micromanipulation techniques, the investigation of novel light fields, the characterisation of particle dynamics (at the atomic, nano, and micron scale) in optical light fields and the exploration of novel optical imaging techniques for biology and medicine.  The group is headed by Kishan Dholakia, and consists of an international mixture of multi-disciplinary research staff and PhD students.

We are based in the School of Physics & Astronomy, and part of the Centre of Biophotonics and the Sir James Mackenzie Institute for Early Diagnosis. Our work has generated several commercial projects, such as the Elliot Scientific Optical Tweezer range and the M-Squared Aurora microscope. Our research is presently funded by a number of sources, including the UK EPSRC, the European Union Framework 7 programme, the EU Horizon 2020 Programme and the Leverhulme Trust. 

We are always delighted to hear from potential new postdoctoral staff, postgraduate students and summer interns – please contact Prof Kishan Dholakia with informal enquiries.

Recruiting soon

Our labs are currently closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, but funding is available for us to recruit several new postdoctoral research fellows when we are back to being fully operational. Posts will be available across most of our areas of research. Specifically, we are likely to be looking for candidates who can contribute to work in the following areas:

  • development of new multimodal tools for biomedical imaging, biomedical sensing and food security, using multi-photon microscopy, light-sheet microscopy and Raman spectroscopy
  • harnessing either optically-trapped microparticles levitated in vacuum or laser speckle metrology for precision measurements
  • design and implementation of advanced computational methods for quantitative image analysis in biophotonics

Speculative informal enquires are welcome. Please send a CV, list of publications and cover letter to Prof Kishan Dholakia (kd1@st-andrews.ac.uk) and Dr Graham Bruce (gdb2@st-andrews.ac.uk)

Recent research highlights

Patterned light sees inside tissue

Shaping light in space and time enables imaging deep within organisms.

Read the article in Science Advances.

Light-sheet imaging the Airy way

Control of the shape of Airy beams offers advantages for biomedical imaging.

Research article in Science Advances.

Randomness aids precision measurement

Random speckle patterns allow the accurate determination of a laser’s wavelength.

Read the article in Nature Communications.