Europe, UK, Asia & RoW: [email protected] +44 (0)1622 859444 | USA & Canada: [email protected] +1 401-583-7846

Education Through the Lens: Optical Components for Medical Universities

1st Mar 2023

Scientific Optical Components play a crucial role in medical research and diagnosis in universities worldwide. In laboratories, they’re used to examine biological specimens, create images, and perform other important tasks. From microscopes to spectrophotometers, optics are essential in advancing medical knowledge and treatment. As a trusted global supplier of high-quality optical components for dominant medical universities, here Knight Optical provides insight into some of the optics that are found in these labs and the applications they’re being used for.
The use of cutting-edge optical technology in medical universities allows for more accurate and efficient diagnoses, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes. By utilising these tools, medical universities are at the forefront of scientific discovery and are contributing to the development of, quite literally, life-changing innovative treatments and cures.

From top-ranked medical universities in the UK, such as the University of Oxford and Cambridge, to ivy-league colleges in the USA, including Harvard Medical School and Yale School of Medicine, these institutes produce the best future leaders in medical advancements who are poised to remedy not only common illnesses but also fatal diseases.

Specifically in educational disciplines such as Chemistry, Biology, Biomedical Sciences, and Human Sciences, optical components play a prominent role.
Let’s explore some examples…

Seeing the Invisible: How Optics Shed Light on the Mysteries of Chemistry

In Chemistry, optics are put into use in various applications, such as spectroscopy. Components, such as Lenses, Mirrors, and Filters, are used to control and manipulate light, enabling budding scientists and researchers to study the chemical compositions of samples. Other instances include imaging techniques, such as fluorescence microscopy.

Optics Illuminating the Wonders of Biology

Meanwhile, in biology research and education, scientific optical components are commonly used in various aspects, including microscopy, spectroscopy, fluorescence, and imaging.

Peering into the Human Body: Optics Revolutionising Biomedical Sciences

The use of scientific optical components in Biomedical Sciences plays a key role in advancing our understanding of the human body and developing new diagnostic and therapeutic technologies.

Both in research and education, they are used for a multitude of purposes, such as medical imaging to generate detailed images of internal organs, tissues, and bones; spectroscopy to study the molecular composition of biological samples, such as blood, tissue, and organs; and optical coherence tomography (OCT), a non-invasive imaging technique used to study the internal structure of biological tissues, including the retina, skin, and heart. For the latter, optical components, such as laser diodes and detectors, are commonly used to produce high-resolution images.

Shining a Light on Progress: Optics Power the Next Generation of Scientific Breakthroughs

Now, let’s examine some high-profile university and research projects that utilise optics and have recently made headlines.

Harvard Medical School 

Thanks to its leading reputation for providing excellent medical education, conducting cutting-edge research, and offering comprehensive patient care, Harvard Medical School has a long history of producing skilled and knowledgeable healthcare professionals.

One of the most sought-after medical schools in the world, it has a centuries-old impressive timeline of diverse discoveries, including vital findings in the HIV/AIDS fields, explorative determinations on the brain’s circadian clock and even the development of laser tattoo removal.

Recently, researchers have been exploring new ways to enhance established technology to achieve even better results. For instance, in October of last year, a team from Harvard Medical School, and its affiliate Boston-based non-profit hospital Mass General Brigham, developed a flexible graded index (GRIN) lens as part of a needle-like endoscopic imaging probe, with the goal of capturing 3D microscopic images of tissue.

Talking of the GRIN lens’ flexibility, Researcher Guigen Liu, told “When the lens is bent, the signal lanes that carry the image through the rod synergistically adapt by laterally shifting, much like a car tends to shift toward the outside of a slippery, curved road1.”

Read the full story here.

Yale School of Medicine

Another prestigious US medical institution, Yale School of Medicine is known for its strong commitment to medical education, research, and patient care, and is widely regarded as another top medical school in the world.

Recognised for its research contributions in various fields, such as cancer biology, genetics, neuroscience, and global health, the school’s faculty and students conduct ground-breaking research that advances the field of medicine and leads to the development of new treatments and technologies.

Only this month, Yale professors have been popping up in the news. For instance, Malini Harigopal, Breast Pathology Fellowship Director at Yale School of Medicine, and Minghao Zhong, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pathology at Yale School of Medicine, co-authored a preclinical study that demonstrated the potential of the CytoVeris, a developer of AI-powered cancer imaging technology, TumorMAP system for cancer detection, which is based on “Multi-Spectral Tissue Auto-Fluorescence Imaging (MS-TAFI) technology that analyses the ‘optical fingerprint’ of tissue and deciphers its intrinsic biomolecular and morphological characteristics2“.

Deemed suitable for the detection of breast cancer, Malini also stated that it the AI and optical imaging study has “far-reaching applications for other organ sites where margin evaluation is critical2.”

Read more about the project here.

University of Oxford

In terms of research, the University of Oxford is another world-leading university with a long history of pioneering research in various fields, such as medicine, physics, and mathematics.

As one of the oldest universities in the world, having been established in the 11th century, it has a rich history of academic excellence and intellectual leadership. For instance, Living Optics, a company founded in 2020 by the University of Oxford’s Physics Department, aimed to commercialise a new hyperspectral imager (HSI).

Originating from a happy accident, the Living Optics team came across this technology by chance when faced with a project that required a rate of “a few tens of trillions of frames per second3“. The team ended up producing a camera themselves that just happened to provide a breakthrough in some of the biggest issues in computer vision. These low-cost cameras aim to capture information that’s impossible for the human eye and other cameras to obtain.

Learn more about Living Optics here.

The University of Cambridge

The Photonics Department at the University of Cambridge is a leading research and educational institution in the field of optics and photonics. It offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs in photonics, including a PhD program, and is known for its cutting-edge research in areas such as optical communication systems, photonic devices, and bio photonics.

The University of Cambridge’s Photonics Department comprises several research groups, such as the Centre of Molecular Materials for Photonics and Electronics (CMMPE), the Centre for Photonic Systems, and the Centre for Photonic Devices and Sensors.

It’s not surprising that this university is constantly producing cutting-edge innovations, given its broad range of photonics-focused research groups and illustrious professor alumni, including the renowned Sir Isaac Newton.

In fact, the University of Cambridge recently collaborated with Technion–Israel Institute of Technology and the University of Vienna on a project that presents new methods for generating quantum light at high energies. The results of the project aim to make it simpler for engineers to produce and utilise light with quantum properties that can be managed across a wide range of frequencies.

Learn more here.

A New Era of Healthcare

At Knight Optical, we believe in supporting the next generation of medical professionals. That’s why we offer support to STEM students through partnerships with universities and local events. Our commitment to education is strong, and we take pride in working with all universities globally as well as sponsoring local university activities.

For instance, we recently sponsored a celebration for the University of Kent’s Applied Optics Group (AOG) in honour of Professor Adrian Podoleanu’s esteemed career in the field of optics. The event provided an opportunity for members of the group to learn more about our optics and allowed us to support the future of this exciting scientific field.

Learn more here.

Why Choose Knight Optical for your Application? 

Discerning customers rely on Knight Optical not only for the premium quality of our output and in-house state-of-the-art Metrology Laboratory and QA Department’s capabilities but because – as well as a range of Stock Optics (available for next-day dispatch) – we also offer our optics as Custom-Made Components.

In 2021, we celebrated 30 years in business. With over three decades of experience under our belt and a whole host of long-standing world-renowned customers on our books, we are proud to have worked on some of the most ground-breaking innovations.

If you are looking for premium-quality, stock, and bespoke optical components, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the Technical Sales Team here.


Europe, UK, Asia & RoW:

[email protected]

+44 (0)1622 859444

USA & Canada: 

[email protected]

+1 401-583-7846