Collaborative Optical Spectroscopy, Micromanipulation and Imaging Centre (COSMIC)
About the COSMIC group
The interaction of light with matter is the single most powerful probe of materials at the atomic and molecular levels. This method of studying materials has experienced three major revolutions in the last decade that have enabled:
increases in spatial resolution and sensitivity to the point where single molecule signals are now detectable;
increases in temporal resolution whereby ultrafast chemical, photophysical and dynamical processes can be monitored down to femto-second timescales; and
the harnessing of light as a non-invasive manipulative tool.
COSMIC is a cross-disciplinary centre that incorporates these three elements for advanced characterisation, visualisation and control of materials at the molecular level. The key conceptual innovation is the coordinated use of three complementary techniques:
Ultra-fast Real-time Spectroscopy
to probe dynamics (single-molecule to collective) and chemical processes in materials ranging from simple prototype systems to complex macromolecules and biological systems over timescales spanning 18 orders of magnitude (femtoseconds to hours).
to view chemically-tagged molecules and structures in complex environments, including living cells, down to near-single-molecule resolution using confocal, multi-photon and fluorescence lifetime microscopies.
to convert the ordinary light microscope from a passive viewing instrument into a versatile manipulative tool that allows non-invasive trapping and movement of microscopic and biological objects.
The Mission Statement of COSMIC is:
To deliver unique optical instrumentation coupled with resident expertise, thereby providing a stimulating environment for fundamental and applied research that cuts across the traditional boundaries between the physical and life sciences.
To encourage interest and involvement from industries that need to characterise and control the properties of complex materials, including biological systems, at the molecular and nanoscale level, and to offer the highest standards of training on state-of-the-art optical systems to industrial collaborators as well as to postgraduate and postdoctoral staff.
To promote (through a dedicated Visitors' Centre and regular seminars) public understanding of science and to host visiting scientists from the UK and abroad from both industrial and academic sectors.