Photonics drives microscopy advances

"Almost every aspect of our day-to-day existence has been influenced by microscopy," says Terence Allen in his new book, Microscopy: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2015). And the influence of microscopy has skyrocketed in recent years. Indeed, while Allen's historical notes point out the rapid improvements and major advances in microscopy since the beginning of the 20th century, citations in PubMed involving optical/light microscopy have doubled or tripled (depending how you search) just since 2000 compared with the preceding 15 years.

Advances in optics and photonics are largely responsible for facilitating this progress. As Allen wrote, different types of light microscopy have resulted from novel ways of manipulating light, and incorporating new illumination sources. Exemplifying articles in this issue explore fiber lasers in the yellow and red range, a low-cost liquid crystal display that enables multimodal microscopy, and how ultrafast laser pulses have enabled an exciting development in x-ray imaging, all of which provide just a snapshot to affirm his observation. More are reported every day at

Barbara Gefvert
Editor in Chief

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