The Scanning Optical Microscopy group in the Department of Engineering Science has a history of working in high-resolution microscopy over the last twenty-five years. Confocal microscopy, which permits volume structures to be imaged in three dimensions, is at the heart of the research activities. However, the overall aim of the research is to develop a variety of high resolution imaging techniques for applications in areas ranging from the life science to industrial metrology. This work has led to the publication of the first book on confocal microscopy in 1984 as well as the sale of the first commercial confocal system by a UK company. The publications of the applicants in this field now number well over three hundred in peer-reviewed international journals, in addition to three books. The work has also resulted in the award of eight national awards and prizes. Their work has contributed to UK economic competitiveness through the due exploitation of intellectual property via Isis Innovation, the University of Oxford’s technology transfer company: they hold twelve patents, several of which are under licence to commercial enterprises for exploitation. A spin-out company, Aurox Ltd, has been founded to commercialise patented microscope technology developed within the research group.