Professor Paola Borri

Professor Paola Borri


School of Biosciences

+44 (0)29 2087 9356
+44 (0)29 2087 4116
Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

Research activities in my group cover the area of biophotonics at the interface between life and physical sciences. In collaboration with the School of Physics and Astronomy, my research work includes:

  • development of a new generation laser-scanning multiphoton microscope based on Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering (CARS) for label-free studies on living cells
  • development of a multiphoton optical microscopy (four-wave mixing imaging) based on the resonant nonlinear emission of colloidal nanocrystals (semiconductor quantum dots and metallic nanoparticles)
  • development of optical biosensors for sensitive detection of biomolecules using plasmonics sensing with metallic nanoparticles or whispering-gallery modes of microspheres
  • time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET) as a probe of biomolecular interactions


In September 2011 we held the first Bio-Nano-Photonics Symposium at Cardiff University. Following symposia were organised in September 2013 and 2015. Join us for the upcoming event organised in September 2017!

See our recently published papers:

Nature Nanotechnology, titled Coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering microscopy of single nanodiamondsDevelopment, titled Quantitative imaging of lipids in live mouse oocytes and early embryos using CARS microscopy.

Interested in joining my lab as a self-funded post-graduate student or a postdoc/fellow?  Please contact me by email.

I did my undergraduate in Physics at the University of Florence (Italy) and then received the Diploma and the Ph.D degree in Physics in 1993 and 1997 respectively. From 1997 to 1999 I was Assistant Research Professor at the Technical University of Denmark (Kgs.Lyngby, Denmark).

From 1999 to 2004 I worked as Senior Scientist and EU Marie Curie Fellow (2001-2003) at the Physics Department of Dortmund University in Germany where I received the Habilitation degree in Physics (Venia Legendi) in 2003. During this time I was interested in the experimental investigation of the optical properties of novel semiconductor nanostructures, such as quantum wells and quantum dots. In particular, I developed a new technique for ultra-fast coherent laser spectroscopy of these nanostructures.

From September 2004 I moved to Cardiff University as Senior Lecturer. On August 1st 2007 I was promoted to Reader and on August 1st 2011 to a Personal Chair.

Honours and awards

In 2015 I received the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. Jointly funded by the Wolfson Foundation and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the scheme aims to provide universities with additional support to enable them to attract science talent from overseas and retain respected UK scientists of outstanding achievement and potential.

I received the Marie Curie Excellence Award from the European Commission during the official award ceremony at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne on the 16th November 2006.

Marie Curie Excellence Awards (EXA) aim to give public recognition to outstanding past achievements of scientists who have reached a level of exceptional excellence in their given field. Up to five prizes of 50 000 Euros each are awarded every year.

Professional memberships

Since October 2010 I am an EPSRC Leadership Fellow.

I am a PI in the Initial Training Network FINON (Female Investigators in Nonlinear Optical Nanoscopy)


Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering microscopy for label-free imaging of living cells

Optical microscopy is an indispensable tool for cell biology. Different microscopy methods are currently available and continuous effort is devoted to develop new techniques with improved sensitivity, selectivity and spatial resolution. An important issue in recent microscopy is the ability to perform non-invasive studies avoiding the need for fluorescent probes that are prone to photobleaching and can perturb the cell structure and function.

Together with Prof. Wolfgang Langbein who is appointed in the School of Physics and Astronomy, we have developed a range of home-built laser-scanning multiphoton microscopes based on Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering (CARS), enabling rapid label-free chemically specific microscopy of living cells and tissues. A second-generation CARS microscope located in the School of Biosciences has been specifically developed to perform multimodal correlative CARS, two -photon fluorescence (TPF) and second harmonic generation (SHG) microscopy for applications in cell biology.

With this system, we have developed a hyperspectral CARS modality including a quantitative image analysis method which distinguishes the composition of chemical components and retrieves their concentration and spatial distribution.

Recent outputs of this work have been published in:

Iestyn Pope, Lukas Payne, George Zoriniants, Evan Thomas, Oliver Williams, Peter Watson, Wolfgang Langbein, and Paola Borri, "Coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering microscopy of single nanodiamonds" Nature Nanotechnology 9, 940 (2014)

Claudia Di Napoli, Iestyn Pope, Francesco Masia, Peter Watson, Wolfgang Langbein, and Paola Borri, "Hyperspectral and differential CARS microscopy for quantitative chemical imaging in human adipocytes"  Biomedical Optics Express 5, 1378 (2014). Open access

Francesco Masia, Paola Borri, and Wolfgang Langbein, "Sparse sampling for fast hyperspectral coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering imaging" Optics Express 22, 4021 (2014). Open access

Andreas Zumbusch, Wolfgang Langbein and Paola Borri, "Nonlinear vibrational microscopy applied to lipid biology" Progress in Lipid Research52, 615-632 (2013)

Francesco Masia, Adam Glen, Phil Stephens, Paola Borri, and Wolfgang Langbein, "Quantitative Chemical Imaging and Unsupervised Analysis Using Hyperspectral Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering Microscopy" Anal. Chem. 85, 10820-10828 (2013). Open access

Pope I, Langbein W, Watson P, Borri P "Simultaneous hyperspectral differential-CARS, TPF and SHG microscopy with a single 5 fs Ti:Sa laser" Optics Express 21, 7096 (2013). Open access

Bei Li, Paola Borri, Wolfgang Langbein "Dual/differential coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering module for multiphoton microscopes with a femtosecond Ti:sapphire oscillator" J. Biomed. Opt. 18, 066004 (2013) Open access

Israel Rocha-Mendoza, Paola Borri,Wolfgang Langbein "Quadruplex CARS micro-spectroscopy" Journal of Raman Spectroscopy 44, 255 (2013)

Claudia Di Napoli, Francesco Masia, Iestyn Pope, Cees Otto, Wolfgang Langbein, and Paola Borri "Chemically-specific dual/differential CARS micro-spectroscopy of saturated and unsaturated lipid droplets" J. Biophotonics 7, 68-76 (2014, online 2012). Open access

Wolfgang Langbein , Israel Rocha-Mendoza, Paola Borri "Single source coherent anti-Stokes Raman micro-spectroscopy using spectral focusing" Applied Physics Letters 95, 081109 (2009).
Israel Rocha-Mendoza, Wolfgang Langbein, Peter Watson, and Paola Borri "Differential coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering microscopy with linearly-chirped femtosecond laser pulses", Optics Letters 34, 2258 (2009).

Wolfgang Langbein, Israel Rocha-Mendoza, and Paola Borri, "Coherent anti-Stokes Raman micro-spectroscopy using spectral focusing: Theory and Experiment", Journal of Raman Spectroscopy 40, 800 (2009).

Israel Rocha-Mendoza, Wolfgang Langbein, and Paola Borri, "Coherent antistokes Raman microspectroscopy using spectral focusing with glass dispersion"Applied Physics Letters 93, 201103 (2008).

Resonant Four-Wave Mixing Imaging with gold nanoparticles

Gold nanoparticles (NPs) are ideal optical labels for biological applications owing to their biocompatibility and photostability, and much effort has been devoted recently to develop techniques capable of detecting gold NPs in cells and tissues with high contrast and sensitivity to the single-particle level.

By detecting the transient four-wave mixing from gold nanoparticles in resonance with their surface plasmon, we recently demonstrated a multiphoton imaging modality suited for cell microscopy. Resonant Four-wave mixing is measured free from background using an interferometric time-resolved heterodyne detection. Owing to the third order nonlinearity, we achieved a spatial resolution significantly surpassing the one-photon diffraction limit. With this technique, high-contrast photostable imaging of Golgi structures is demonstrated in HepG2 cells labeled with gold nanoparticles of 10nm and 5nm diameter.

Recent outputs of this work have been published in:

L. Payne, G. Zoriniants, F. Masia, K. P. Arkill, P. Verkade, D. Rowles, W. W. Langbein and P. Borri, "Optical micro-spectroscopy of single metallic nanoparticles: Quantitative extinction and transient resonant four-wave mixing" Faraday Discuss. (2015), just accepted DOI: 10.1039/C5FD00079C.

Lukas M. Payne, Wolfgang Langbein, and Paola Borri, "Polarization-resolved extinction and scattering cross-sections of individual gold nanoparticles measured by wide-field microscopy on a large ensemble" Appl. Phys. Lett. 102, 131107 (2013).

F. Masia, W. Langbien, and P. Borri"Polarization-resolved ultrafast dynamics of the complex polarizability in single gold nanoparticles" Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 15, 4226 (2013)

F. Masia, W. Langbein, P. Borri, "Measurement of the dynamics of plasmons inside individual gold nanoparticles using a femtosecond phase-resolved microscope" Phys. Rev. B 85, 235403 (2012)

Francesco Masia, Wolfgang Langbein, Peter Watson, and Paola Borri, "Resonant four-wave mixing of gold nanoparticles for three-dimensional cell microscopy" Optics Letters 34, 1816 (2009).

Other research interests

  • Sensitive molecular and microparticle detection by whispering-gallery modes of coated microspheres
  • Ultrafast coherent dynamics of semiconductor quantum dot materials and devices
  • Time-resolved Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (TR FRET) as probe of biomolecular interactions


  • BBSRC, EPSRC, MRC, EU, Ministry of Defence – Dstl, DTI

Group members