Dr. Mike P MacDonald


Optical microscopy and micromanipulation for biology and medicine


Division of Cancer Research
Mailbox 5
Level 6
University of Dundee
Ninewells Hospital and Medical School
Dundee DD1 9SY

Phone Number:

+(44) 01382 386988

Email Address:



Mike MacDonald holds a joint appointment between the Division of Cancer Research in the School of Medicine and the School of Science and Engineering. He is the head of the Biophotonics Research Group in DIT, part of the university-wide Biomedical Photonics and Ultrasound Group (BPUG), jointly headed by Prof Sandy Cochran. Dr MacDonald is an internationally recognised pioneer in his field, whose top 10 published works have an average of over 150 citations each.  He joined Dundee in 2007 from the University of St Andrews, received his MSc (1998) and PhD (2000) in Laser Physics at the University of Bern and his BSc from the University of Strathclyde in 1996.


Dr MacDonald's research has three main foci:  lightsheet imaging, cell sorting and opto-acoustics.

Lightsheet imaging

Lightsheet fluorescence imaging is rapidly becoming the must have microscopy of any cell biology lab.  My group investigates many different aspects of lightsheet imaging, both applications and technology driven.  We have developed high speed scanned lightsheet microscopy (DSLM) suited to imaging chick embryos for developmental physiology studies (see Fig 1), lightsheet tomography for imaging plant root growth as well as FLIM and optoacoustic variants.  This work has been funded by the BBSRC, MRC and through commercial contracts and is done in collaboration with Kees Weijer of the College of Life Sciences in Dundee, Lionel Dupuy of the James Hutton Institute and Gail McConnel of Strathclyde University

Cell sorting

There remains an unmet need in both the life sciences and medicine for label free cell sorting.  We develop both optical and acoustic passive cell sorting technologies with an aim to finding the next generation of massively scalable label free sorting for application such as bio-processing for cell therapy.  This work is done in collaboration with Nik Willoughby of Heriot Watt University and Jo Mountford of Glasgow University and is funded by the SFC and EPSRC.


At both the physical and intellectual interface between optics and acoustics there is a huge opportunity for novel imaging, manipulation and therapeutic devices.  On the applications driven side we are developing opto-acoustic imaging and spectroscopy for improved biopsy in the prostate.  We are also developing a new level of sophistication in the control of ultrasound through the adoption optical techniques in the programming of large element count ultrasound arrays.  This has enabled us to demonstrate the "real sonic screwdriver" and an acoustic "tractor beam" but also give us the capability to manipulate acoustic wavefronts for aberration correction and energy deposition in focussed ultrasound surgery. This work is funded by the EPSRC.


Recent and significant publications include:


I am the leader of the level 1 Professional Physics module and teach Biophotonics as part of the Laser Physics and Photonics level 5 module.  I also supervise project students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level from the physics, electronic engineering, medical device technology, medical imaging and biomedical engineering degrees.

PhD Supervision

Dr Graham Brodie, "Hybrid acoustic and optical micromanipulation", 2013.

Mr Paul O'Mahoney, "Optical sorting of stem cell derived red blood cells", 2015.

Daniel O'Brien "Nuclear Dynamics with FLIM interaction"

Sascha Reidt "Developmental tissue dynamics using Non-diffracting LSM"

Ricardo Bango da Cunha Correia "High speed LSFM"

Alessandra Cecchini "In vivo imaging by Quantum Dots and other nanoparticles"

Salvatore Smirni "Cardiovascular Diagnostics"


Some recent conferences and lectures include:

Invited presentation at Photonex 2015, Glasgow, June 2015.

Invited presentation in January 2015 at the Optical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation conference in Obergurgl, Austria.

P. O’Mahoney, G.W. Brodie, H. Wang, C. Démoré, S. Cochran, G. C. Spalding, M.P. MacDonald, "Hybrid optical and acoustic force based sorting," Proceedings SPIE 9164, 9164-74 (SPIE, Bellingham, WA (2014).

GC Spalding, PM Dahl, CE Démoré, Z Yang, P Glynne-Jones, A Melzer,S. Cochran, MP MacDonald “Mapping out tractor beams: topological angular momentum and reduced axial flux; gradient versus non-conservative forces” SPIE NanoScience+ Engineering, 881004-881004-15 (2013)

P. André, S. Chen, C. Hoskins, L. Wang, M.P. MacDonald "External Monitoring of in-situ Temperatures with Multimodal nanoColloids" Conference in the honor of Prof. C. Murphy; Paris, France (July 4, 2012).

P. André, S. Chen, C. Hoskins, L. Wang, M.P. MacDonald, S. Duce, S. Brown, S. Lee, A. Melzer, A. Cuschieri  "Hybrid nanoMaterials for Biocompatible Imaging and Sensor nanoProbes" CNRS-Ewha International Research Center (CERC); Seoul, Korea (Ap. 13, 2012)

G. Brodie, G. Spalding and M. MacDonald, "Acoustic Bessel beam with combined optical trapping" SPIE Annual meeting, San Diego (13 - 16 August 2012)

G. Brodie, Y. Qiu, S. Cochran, G. Spalding and M. MacDonald, "VALOR: Vertical Acoustic Levitation with increased Optical Routing", Photon 12, Durham (September 3-6, 2012).

E. Rozbicki, K. Weijer and M. MacDonald "High-speed light-sheet microscopy for imaging 3D behaviour during Dictyostelium Discoideum development", Photon 12, Durham (September 3-6, 2012).

Z. Yang, H. Downie, L. Dupuy and M. MacDonald, "Light-sheet tomography for in vivo imaging of arabidopsis root", Photon 12, Durham (September 3-6, 2012).

P. O'Mahoney, G. Brodie and M. MacDonald, "Optical red blood cell sorting", Photon 12, Durham (September 3-6, 2012).

E. Rozbicki, K. Weijer and M. MacDonald, "Imaging of chick embryo development with digitally scanned lightsheet microscopy", Lightsheet Fluorescence Microscopy meeting (September 2012).

M. MacDonald, "From tractor beams to sonic screwdrivers: inspirational science with real impact", STEM assured launch, Forth Valley College, Falkirk (23 November 2012).

M. MacDonald, "From tractor beams to sonic screwdrivers: inspirational science with real impact", Science2012, Glasgow (9 May 2012).

M MacDonald, "Lightsheet microscopy in Dundee", Imaging and Sensing in Medicine and the Life Sciences, Strathclyde University, (February 22, 2012).

M.P. MacDonald, Sonotweezers and Hybrid Optical/Acoustic Micromanipulation, Optics in the Life Sciences: OSA Optics and Photonics Congress, April Monterey 2011

Graham Brodie, N. Lin, G.C. Spalding and M. MacDonald,  "Designs for a hybrid optical-acoustic trapping system", Photon 10, Durham (August 25, 2010)

M.P.  MacDonald, “Optical Vortices in Optical Trapping” Vortex VI, Rhodes 2009

M.P. MacDonald, "Cell sorting in optically produced micro-potential energy landscapes" ELMI, Glasgow, June 2009