RCUK Fellow/Lecturer

+44 (0)131 451 3068
Room 1.32
David Brewster Building
Heriot-Watt University
Lynn Paterson

The research interests of our group fall under the broad theme of biophotonics. We use the force of light to pick up and move microscopic particles, such as single biological cells, for studies into the life sciences.

A laser beam, focused tightly through a microscope objective can be used as a tool (optical tweezer) to non-invasively move microscopic objects in three dimensions. Light, even when not tightly focused, can exert a force on particles and make them move (optical manipulation or optical trapping), by pushing them in the direction of beam propagation, much like a football can be pushed in a jet of water from a fireman’s hose.

Laser light can also be used as a microdissection tool, to cut intracellular structures, to fuse two cells together, or to punch short-lived holes in the cell plasma membrane.

These optical tools allow us to interfere with the complicated biology of a cell simply by exerting minute forces on a cell or selectively and controllably destroying parts of the cell.

We also use ultrafast lasers, in collaboration with Dr. Thomson and Prof. Kar for fabricating integrated microfluidic and waveguide devices for trapping, interrogation and sorting cells.

Selected publications
  1. D. Choudhury, W. T. Ramsay, N. D. Psaila, et. al. Sorting stem cells using a femtosecond laser inscribed biochip, 23rd Annual Meeting of the IEEE Photonics-Society, 216-217 (2010).
  2. P. A. Dalgarno, H. I. Dalgarno, A. Putoud, R. Lambert, L. Paterson, D. C. Logan, D. P. Towers, R. J. Warburton & A. H. Greenaway. Multiplane imaging and three dimensional nanoscale particle tracking in biological microscopy. Optics Express 18: 877-884 (2010).
  3. K. Dholakia, W. M. Lee, L. Paterson, M. P. MacDonald, R. McDonald, I. Andreev, P. Mthunzi, C. T. A. Brown, R. F. Marchington & A. C. Riches. 2007. Optical Separation of Cells on Potential Energy Landscapes: Enhancement with Dielectric Tagging. IEEE Journal of selected topics in Quantum Electronics 13: 1646-1654 (2007).
  4. Paterson, L., E. Papagiakoumou, G. Milne, V. Garces-Chavez, T. Briscoe, W. Sibbett, K. Dholakia, & A. C. Riches. 2007. Passive optical separation within a 'nondiffracting' light beam. Journal of Biomedical Optics 12: Art. No. 054017 (2007).
  5. Fischer P, A. McWilliam, L. Paterson, C. T. A. Brown, W. Sibbett, K. Dholakia & M. P. MacDonald. 2007. Two-photon ablation with 1278 nm laser radiation. Journal of Optics A- Pure and Applied Optics 9: S19-S23 (2007).
  6. Jess, P.R.T., V. Garcés-Chávez, D. Smith, M. Mazilu, L. Paterson, A. Riches, C. S. Herrington, W. Sibbett, & K. Dholakia. 2006. Dual beam fibre trap for Raman micro-spectroscopy of single cells. Optics Express 14: 5779-5791 (2006).
  7. Paterson, L., E. Papagiakoumou, G. Milne, V. Garcés-Chávez, S. A. Tatarkova, W. Sibbett, F. J. Gunn-Moore, P. E. Bryant, A. C. Riches & K. Dholakia. 2005. Light-induced cell separation in a tailored optical landscape. Applied Physics Letters 87, article number 123901 (2005).
  8. Paterson, L., B. Agate, M. Comrie, R. Ferguson, T.K. Lake, J.E. Morris, A.E. Carruthers, C.T.A. Brown, W. Sibbett, P.E. Bryant, F. Gunn-Moore, A.C. Riches & K. Dholakia. 2005. Photoporation and cell transfection using a violet diode laser. Optics Express 13: 595-600 (2005).
  9. MacDonald, M., S. Neale, L. Paterson, A.C. Riches, K. Dholakia & G.C. Spalding. 2004. Cell cytometry with a light touch: Sorting microscopic matter with an optical lattice. Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents 18: 200-205 (2004).
  10. Lake, T.K., A.E. Carruthers, L. Paterson, M. Taylor, F. Gunn-Moore, J.W. Allen, W. Sibbett & K. Dholakia. 2004. Optical trapping and fluorescence excitation with violet diode lasers and extended cavity surface emitting lasers. Optics Express 12: 670-678 (2004).
  11. Dholakia, K., H. Little, C.T.A. Brown, B. Agate, D. McGloin, L. Paterson & W. Sibbett. 2004. Imaging in optical micromanipulation using two-photon excitation. New Journal of Physics 6: 136-143 (2004).
  12. Paterson, L., M.P. MacDonald, J. Arlt, W. Dultz, H. Schmitzer, W. Sibbett & K. Dholakia. 2003. Controlled simultaneous rotation of multiple optically trapped particles. Journal of Modern Optics 50: 1591-1599 (2003).
  13. MacDonald, M.P., K. Volke-Sepulveda, L. Paterson, J. Arlt, W. Sibbett & K. Dholakia. 2002. Revolving interference patterns for the rotation of optically trapped particles. Optics Communications 201: 21-28 (2002).
  14. MacDonald, M.P., L. Paterson, K. Volke-Sepulveda, J. Arlt, W. Sibbett & K. Dholakia. 2002. Creation and manipulation of three-dimensional optically trapped structures. Science 296: 1101-1103 (2002).
  15. Arlt, J., M. MacDonald, L. Paterson, W. Sibbett, K. Dholakia & K. Volke-Sepulveda. 2002. Moving interference patterns created using the angular Doppler- effect. Optics Express 10: 844-852 (2002).
  16. Paterson, L., M.P. MacDonald, J. Arlt, W. Sibbett, P.E. Bryant & K. Dholakia. 2001. Controlled rotation of optically trapped microscopic particles. Science 292: 912-914 (2001).
  17. MacDonald, M.P., L. Paterson, W. Sibbett, K. Dholakia & P.E. Bryant. 2001. Trapping and manipulation of low-index particles in a two- dimensional interferometric optical trap. Optics Letters 26: 863-865 (2001).

Lynn Paterson joined Heriot-Watt University in July 2007 as a Lecturer with the award of an RCUK Academic Fellowship. Previously, Lynn obtained a BSc degree in Molecular Biology at Glasgow University in 1999 and was awarded her PhD in 2004 from St Andrews University. From 2004-2007 she continued as a post doctoral research fellow at St Andrews, working on projects ranging from all-optical cell sorting to photoporation of mammalian cells to assist transfection. The use of light in biology and medicine, as a research tool or as a therapy, continues to be of interest to Lynn.

Further information

Lynn is a Fellow of the Optoelectronics College, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Associate member of the Institute of Physics, Associate member of the Institute of Biology and member of the British Society for Cell Biology.

Lynn can visityour school to deliver a Schools’ Lecture based on her group’s research: ‘Shedding new light on Biology’
There has been a long tradition of interplay between the physical and life sciences over the centuries. Recent advances in the physics of light are driving forward the fields of biology and medicine. Light can be used to watch the goings on inside living cells and can also be used to grab, move, cut and fuse microscopic, biological particles. In this talk we explore how light can be used to understand more about living organisms.
The talk can be tailored for S3-S6, Y10-Y13.

There are other talks from Heriot Watt University’s physics staff also on offer. Click here to see more.

We often host Schools’ visits here at Heriot Watt’s physics department, for workshops, Masterclasses and Science Shows. In the sessions there are demonstrations, information talks, but mainly hands-on activities. Click here for more information.