Martin Fischer


Research Professor in the Department of Chemistry

Dr. Fischer’s research focuses on exploring novel nonlinear optical contrast mechanisms for molecular imaging. Nonlinear optical microscopes can provide non-invasive, high-resolution, 3-dimensional images even in highly scattering environments such as biological tissue. Established contrast mechanisms, such as two-photon fluorescence or harmonic generation, can image a range of targets (such as autofluorescent markers or some connective tissue structure), but many of the most molecularly specific nonlinear interactions are harder to measure with power levels one might be willing to put on tissue. In order to use these previously inaccessible interactions as structural and molecular image contrasts we are developing ultrafast laser pulse shaping and pulse shape detection methods that dramatically enhance measurement sensitivity. Applications of these microscopy methods range from imaging biological tissue (mapping structure, endogenous tissue markers, or exogenous contrast agents) to characterization of nanomaterials (such as graphene and gold nanoparticles). The molecular contrast mechanisms we originally developed for biomedical imaging also provide pigment-specific signatures for paints used in historic artwork. Recently we have demonstrated that we can noninvasively image paint layers in historic paintings and we are currently developing microscopy techniques for use in art conservation and conservation science.

Dr. Fischer is also the director of the Advanced Light Imaging and Spectroscopy (ALIS) facility at Duke University.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Research Professor in the Department of Chemistry
  • Research Professor of Physics
  • Faculty Network Member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 2216 French Science Center, 124 Science Drive, Durham, NC 27708
  • Office Phone: +1 919 660 1523
  • Email Address:


  • Ph.D. University of Texas, Austin, 2001
  • M.A. University of Texas, Austin, 1993

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Optica Fellow. Optica (formerly Optical Society of America). 2024
  • Imaging Scientist Award. Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. 2019
  • Outstanding Dissertation Award in Physics. The University of Texas at Austin. 2001

Courses Taught

  • PHYSICS 549: Optics and Photonics Seminar Series
  • ECE 549: Optics and Photonics Seminar Series
  • BME 609: Optics and Photonics Seminar Series

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Fischer, EP; Fischer, MC; Grass, D; Henrion, I; Warren, WS; Westman, E, Low-cost measurement of face mask efficacy for filtering expelled droplets during speech., Sci Adv, vol 6 no. 36 (2020) [10.1126/sciadv.abd3083] [abs].
  • Yu, J; Li, Z; Kolodziej, C; Kuyuldar, S; Warren, WS; Burda, C; Fischer, MC, Visualizing the impact of chloride addition on the microscopic carrier dynamics of MAPbI3 thin films using femtosecond transient absorption microscopy, The Journal of Chemical Physics, vol 151 no. 23 (2019) [10.1063/1.5127875] [abs].
  • Fischer, M; Wilson, J; Degan, S; Warren, W; Zhang, J; Mitropoulos, T; Gainey, C; Simpson, MJ, Data from: In vivo pump-probe and multiphoton fluorescence microscopy of melanoma and pigmented lesions in a mouse model (2019) [10.7924/r4cc0zp95] [abs].