© 2016 by Imperial College Press. This overview seeks to highlight those technologies which are poised at the forefront of functional, chemical and morphological imaging. Both labelled and label-free techniques are considered, with a particular emphasis on label-free, high resolution ambient imaging techniques. The analysis of the IR spectra of materials reveals a tell-tale 'fingerprint' of the molecule in terms of the absorption experienced in response to the vibrational frequency of bonds (functional groups) present. The novel employment of nonlinear (de-)excitation of materials in an effort to surpass the resolution limit imposed by diffraction is also addressed.