Joel T. Collins,
Mostly physics and code,
but other things too.


University of Bath, Bath Open Instrumentation Group

2018 - Present

Post-doctoral research assistant on the OpenFlexure project. The project broadly aims to make high precision mechanical positioning available to anyone with a 3D printer - for use in microscopes, micromanipulators, and more. My current focus is on the development of more comprehensive control and automation software for the OpenFlexure Microscope.

This project uses the OpenFlexure Microscope design to provide accurate and high-throughput diagnosis for Malaria in ODA countries. Malaria affects hundreds of millions of people per year, and is often diagnosed with manual microscopy, which is labour-intensive and hard to quality-control. We are building on our open source hardware designs to develop low cost, fully automated microscope hardware that can acquire images consistently and efficiently. The ultimate goal is that these microscopes can be produced locally, building skills and jobs across the developing world, and reducing dependency on expensive, slow, and unreliable supply chains.

Principal Invectigator: Open, 3D printed fluorescence microscopy for cell imaging

£3000 funding awarded from EPSRC 'Reimagining Recruitment' project

Fluorescence microscopy is an essential research tool in biology, from imaging single molecules, to cell biology and whole tissues. However, practical exposure to fluorescence microscopy in the undergraduate curriculum is limited, largely due to cost. Although commercial fluorescence microscopes are available, they are prohibitively expensive for undergraduate teaching laboratories. We are building on the OpenFlexure project to produce a laboratory-grade motorised fluorescence microscope with a parts cost of under £500 and a specification exceeding commercially available fluorescence teaching microscopes costing an order of magnitude more. The design will be open-source, allowing the microscope to be used as a prototyping platform for further microscopy developments.

University of Bath, Chirality and Chiroptical Effects in Plasmonic Nanostructures

2015 - 2018

This project seeks to explore and enhance our understanding of the fundamental relationship between chirality and light, through the effect of plasmonics. Modern nanofabrication techniques have allowed the development of nanostructures whose properties are determined not only by the choice of materials, but also by their geometry. The strong dependence on geometry enables the tailored design of structures exhibiting novel optical properties.

Much of this project has focused on the active development of comprehensive characterisation experiments. Various experimental schemes exist to enhance measurable chioptical (chiral-optical) effects, including nonlinear measurements, diffraction imaging, and microscopy. By developing automated data acquisition and processing, we use these techniques to develop a better understanding of the relationship between nanostructure geometry, and their optical properties.

University of Southampton, Cavity Cooling of Optically Trapped Nanoparticles

2014 - 2015

This final year masters project developed an experimental scheme for resolved sideband cooling of optically trapped nanoparticles. The work involved both theoretical and experimental analysis of the feasibility of two different proposed optomechanical cooling schemes.


Measuring optical activity in the far-field from a racemic nanomaterial: diffraction spectroscopy from plasmonic nanogratings, C. Kuppe, X. Zheng, C. Williams, A. W. A. Murphy, J. T. Collins, S. N. Gordeev, G. A. E. Vandenbosch, V. K. Valev
Nanoscale Horiz., 4, 1056-1062 (2019)

Atomic dispensers for thermoplasmonic control of alkali vapor pressure in quantum optical applications, K. R. Rusimova, D. Slavov, F. Pradaux-Caggiano, J. T. Collins, S. Gordeev, D. Carbery, W. Wadsworth, P. Mosley, V. K. Valev
Nature Communications 10, 2328 (2019)

Superchiral Photons Unveil Magnetic Circular Dichroism, S. W. Lovesey, J. T. Collins, S. P. Collins
Phys. Rev. B 99, 054428 (2019)

First Observation of Optical Activity in Hyper-Rayleigh Scattering, J. T. Collins, K. R. Rusimova, D. C. Hooper, H.-H. Jeong, L. Ohnoutek, F. Pradaux-Caggiano, T. Verbiest, D. R. Carbery, P. Fischer, and V. K. Valev
Phys. Rev. X 9, 011024 (2019)

Second-harmonic generation optical rotation solely attributable to chirality in plasmonic metasurfaces, J. T. Collins, D. C. Hooper, A. G. Mark, C. Kuppe, V. K. Valev
ACS Nano 12, 6, 5445 (2018)

Enantiomorphing chiral plasmonic nanostructures: a counter-intuitive sign reversal of the nonlinear circular dichroism, J. T. Collins, X. Zheng, N. V. S. Braz, E. Slenders, S. Zu, G. A. E. Vandenbosch, V. V. Moshchalkov, Z. Fang, M. Ameloot, P. A. Warburton, V. K. Valev
Adv. Opt. Matter. 1800153 (2018)

Circular dichroism in higher order diffraction beams from chiral quasi-planar nanostructures, C. Kuppe, C. Williams, J. You, J. T. Collins, S. N. Gordeev, T. D. Wilkinson, N. C. Panoiu, V. K. Valev
Adv. Opt. Matter. 1800098 (2018)

Chirality and chiroptical effects in metal nanostructures: fundamentals and current trends, J. T. Collins, C. Kuppe, D. C. Hooper, C. Sibilia, M. Centini, V. K. Valev
Adv. Opt. Matter. 5, 1700182 (2017)

Strong rotational anisotropies affect nonlinear chiral metamaterials, D. C. Hooper, A. G. Mark, C. Kuppe, J. T. Collins, P. Fischer, V. K. Valev
Adv. Mater. 29, 1605110 (2017)

Conference Talks

PyCon UK 2019, Cardiff, Robotic Microscopy for Everyone

ICSQE 2018, Nesebar, SHG Optical Activity in Chiral Metamaterials

ICPN 2018, Wroclaw, Nonlinear Chiroptical Effects in Plasmonic Metamaterials

Chiroptics 2017, Munich, Modal Decomposition of Chiroptical Properties

ICSQE 2016, Sozopol, Modal Origin of Chiroptical Effects in Plasmonic Nanomaterials


I have been heavily involved in a fully funded outreach project demonstrating the interesting properties and applications of light in both science and every-day life, aimed at Key Stage 2, year 5 and 6 students. This has involved leading a range of activities in small groups of 5-6 students, as well as leading the overall whole-class session.
For more information, visit


The OpenFlexure Project

Lead maintainer of server- and client-side software for the OpenFlexure Microscope.

OpenFlexure Microscope Server on GitLab

OpenFlexure eV on GitLab

Selected personal projects
A progressive web app based on a lonely version of the Pong arcade game. Source code available on GitHub.

Pimoroni/Raspberry Pi

Unicorn Pi. Unicorn HAT lamp, with a native Android client.
Writeup on Medium.

WXMote. Pimoroni Mote -based Ambilight clone.
Interfaces with OpenHardwareMonitor for customizable system stats.

System utilities

PVC Build Tools. A simple C/C++/CUDA build script generator written in Python, to ease the pain of Visual Studio Build Tools. A bit like CMake, but worse, but simpler.

Tailwind. A simple server monitor for Windows and Linux.

Undergraduate Teaching of C and Python


Demonstrating, including some whole-class teaching, of a first-year Python programming module within the Department of Physics. One-to-one tutoring of a second-year C programming module within the Department of Physics, working with the Department of Computer Science