Confocal microscopy has made a dramatic impact on biomedical imaging, in particular, but also in other areas such as industrial inspection. Confocal microscopy can image in 3D, with good resolution, into living biological cells and tissue.
I have had the good fortune to be involved with the development of confocal microscopy over the last 40 years. Other techniques have been introduced that overcome some of its limitations, but still it is the preferred choice in many cases. And new developments in confocal microscopy, such as focal modulation microscopy, and image-scanning microscopy, can improve its performance in terms of penetration depth, resolution and signal level.
Colin Sheppard is Senior Scientist in the Nanophysics Department at the Italian Institute of Technology, Genoa. He obtained his PhD degree from University of Cambridge. He has been Professor in the Departments of Bioengineering, Biological Sciences and Diagnostic Radiology at National University of Singapore, Professor of Physics at the University of Sydney, and University Lecturer in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford.
He has held visiting positions at many universities, including MIT, Stanford, UC-Berkeley, EPFL, TU-Delft, University of Jena, University of Erlangen, UNSW, Melbourne, UWA, Queensland, Tsinghua, Zhejiang and Tokyo. He developed an early laser microscope (1975), patented scanning microscopy using Bessel beams (1977), gave the first demonstration of scanning two-photon microscopy (SHG) (1977), proposed two-photon fluorescence and CARS microscopy (1978), launched the first commercial confocal microscope (1982), and developed the first confocal microscope with computer control and storage (1983). In 1988, he proposed scanning microscopy using a detector array with pixel reassignment, now known as image scanning microscopy.