2014 CDT ISM Student Cohort

Steven Bramsiepe

Steven Bramsiepe

University of Glasgow

Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) For Gravity Gradient Mapping

There is currently a gap in the market for low cost, high accuracy, small size gravimeters and gradiometers. This project utilises the fabrication expertise of the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre (JWNC), and the noise mitigation expertise of the Institute for Gravitation Research (IGR).

This relative gravimeter is comprised of a proof mass suspended between four geometrical anti-spring flexures, and an optical shadow sensor to measure the relative displacement. The geometrical anti-spring has a partially negative restoring force due to its arced geometry, and thus allows the resonant frequency to be lowered whilst reducing the corresponding increase in stress seen in traditional spring geometries. Such a decrease in resonant frequency allows for increased acceleration sensitivity and also for applications to be targeted that require sensitivity in this region of the frequency spectrum. Ultimately these devices will be set up in a gradiometer configuration to reduce the sensitivity to inertial accelerations (which can’t be distinguished from gravitational accelerations) via a high common mode rejection ratio (CMRR).

The optical shadow sensor consists of an LED shone onto a double segment photodiode. The MEMS is placed between these two components and the corresponding changes of light intensity from the photodiode are used to calculate the relative motion of the proof mass. This sensor will ultimately be replaced with an on-chip silicon interferometer aiming at nanometre resolution over timescales of 1 day (10uHz).

Steven Bramsiepe ImageSteven Brampsiepe image 3

Alastair Doye

Alastair Doye

University of Glasgow

Experimentally Constrained DFT Optimisation of the Structure ofTa205 Glasses

Capnometers are devices that use infrared absorption to monitor the concentration of CO2 in exhaled breath. An infrared LED of appropriate wavelength is shone through the breath, and the absorption of the light due to the presence of CO2 at a wavelength of 4.28 microns is measured. This provides a means of monitoring the respiratory system, for example, of a hospital patient experiencing breathing problems. Other gases present in exhaled breath or in certain environments, such as a hospital, can interfere with these devices, due to their having similar infrared absorption wavelengths.

Multilayer band-pass optical filter coatings are used to let through a narrow wavelength band of light around 4.28 microns in order to make response more CO2 specific and avoid interference from gases. However, the fabrication processes for these multilayer coatings are not currently well understood, in particular the effect that annealing (heat treatment) has on the optical properties of the filter. For this reason, the main aim of this project is to develop models of how annealing changes the optical properties of the layers in the filter in order to provide a predictive framework for improved filter optimisation and easier production of narrow band filters for highly selective CO2 sensors.


Image: Diffraction pattern of amorphous MoSix

Ermes Toninelli

Ermes Toninelli

University of Glasgow

Characterisation of an EMCCD for Low Light Imaging

How many photons does it take to form an image? Typical meaningful images require 105  photons per pixel.  In my PhD I aim at reducing this number by a factor of 106, which means less than one photon per pixel, hence ultra low-light imaging. My analysis will rely on a strict application of Poisson statistics and the assumption of image sparsity in the spatial frequency domain. I will apply this methodology both to commercial electron multiplying charge coupled devices (EMCCDs) and intensified charge coupled devices (ICCDs), as well as other quantum imaging systems developed in the Optics group and other two-dimensional, single-photon sensitive arrays. Ambitiously my research also seeks a resolution below the classical diffraction limit, by basing the image reconstruction on the detection of biphotons. In this configuration a parametric down-conversion source will be employed as the illumination.

Ermes project image

Christopher Davison

University of Strathcylde

Sensing for Animal Welfare

With increasing size of herd in both dairy and beef farming, farmers are looking increasingly at desicion-support systems as a means of optimising their business. Oestrus (heat detection) systems are now commonplace to optimise fertility, with focus recently shifting to optimise feed usage and detecting the early onset of illness, which can compromise production.

Behavioural monitoring systems, similar to the Silent Herdsman heat detection collar, monitor animal movements and translate these into to behaviour states such as the time an animal spends eating. Algorithms have been proposed that enable eating, lying, standing, rumination, and other behaviours to be identified, with some being more accurate than others.

This research will explore signal processing and data analytic methods to produce predictive algorithms that will identify the onset of welfare and/or productivity changes, with support through InnovateUK programmes PrecisionBeef (optimising growth of beef cattle) and CowHealth (to relate dairy animal welfare to farming practice), working with a range of industrial and academic partners (Gilden Photonics Ltd, Morrisons Ltd, Keenan Systems, Harbro, SRUC, ADC Gas Analytics and Fullwood Systems).

Mark Humphreys

University of Glasgow

Supercamera- Triple Wavelength Superspectral Camera Focal Plane Array

This project aims to develop a single CMOS chip capable of sensing wavelengths in the visible light, infrared and far infrared/Terahertz regions of the electromagnetic spectrum simultaneously. A CMOS chip sensing in these 3 distinct bands can provide a much more cost effective and efficient solution to many optical imaging applications including the medical and defence sectors.

The aim is to combine 2 chips- one based on Silicon with Metamaterial THz absorbers and visible light photodiodes and one on Indium Antimonide (InSb) with infrared photodiodes.

The research aims include designing a THz digital holography methodology, design and implementation of reflective optics system and developing and integrating packaging that allows both InSb and Si detectors to be combined onto a single CMOS chip.

Joseph Bronstein

University of Glasgow

Optical Biological Microfluidics

This project, which is concerned with infectious diseases diagnosis carried out in complex biological samples, aims to simplify the regimen of signal/reference comparison by making and comparing both readings at the same time, with the same detector, on the same sample, with no external hardware requirements. Furthermore, the highly-integrated system will require close to no training as basic on-board electronics will provide an easily interpretable output.

This goal will be achieved by using a light-guiding structure which captures some colours of light, whilst allowing others to pass by. The name for this structure is the “ring resonator”. Those colours which are captured by the resonator can interact with the sample, which can then be referenced against those which are not captured – that is to say that any conditions which affects the sample-interacting light will also affect the reference light in exactly the same way, offsetting the change made by environmental conditions. Separating interacting and non-interacting light based on colour displaces the practice of separating by time (repeated procedures) or location (multiple sensor elements) whilst still providing a fair comparison and reducing opportunity for user error. The system to produce this light and then to detect it and give a diagnosis could be extremely simple, yet accurate and reliable.

Claudio Accarino

University of Glasgow

Multicorder – An Innovative Strategy for Metabolome Sensing

My research project is part of the MULTICORDER, which is an optoelectronic CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) sensing the Metabolome, a collection of chemicals within a biological sample providing information on one person’s status.

The main effort of my research is to design a SPAD (Single Photon Avalanche Diode) with low power performances and high Fill Factor able to perform very low light analysis. Different designs, based on semiconductor TCAD (Technology Computer Aided Design) simulations, will be manufactured and tested aiming for the identification of the optimum one.
Another goal of my research is to characterizing the best working configuration to optimize the performance of the Multicorder chip by using noise reduction techniques.

The final goal is to test the device to make diagnosis and disease prediction. Biological infection, Point of Care, common disease screenings, blood test analysis, follow up of particular disease, emergency situations and remote areas are other application examples for my project.

Hannah Levene

Hannah Levene

University of Edinburgh

The production and characterisation of micro and nanoelectrodes for energy applications

Micro and nanoelectrodes enable the reproducible, sensitive and quantifiable characterisation of redox systems in solution.  We have demonstrated for the first time the principal of the production and use of microelectrode systems suitable for such characterisation in the extreme environments of high temperature molten salts and concentrated aqueous acids, both of which are highly relevant to the development of e.g. clean nuclear energy processes.   The objective of this PhD is to development of micro/nanoelectrodes of controlled dimension, and the assessment of their applicability to characterisation, monitoring and process development in these harsh environments.


David Doran

University of Glasgow

Plug and Play Modular 3D Printed Devices for Synthetic Chemistry & Biology

Vision and Ambition: To develop a new synthetic chemistry and biology platform for the discovery of molecules, biochemical systems and hybrids using an integrated hybrid chemo-robotic system integrating wetware (chemical / biochemical reagents), hardware (reactors and sensors) and software (intelligent algorithms). By ‘digital’ programming it will be possible to optimise / change the course of the wetware as a function of the properties measured using algorithms controlled with a software system utilising the expertise of a team of chemists, electrical engineers and physicists, who share the vision of integration and advanced software control of matter. The chemical / biochemical inputs will be based upon molecular libraries for screening with biological entities using a computer controlled reaction system enabling closed loop chemical synthesis, discovery, and biochemical diagnostics for the first time. The hardware will be built from affordable customisable liquid handling robots, 3D printed reactionware, programmable milli-fluidics as well as linear, networked, and arrayed flow systems with a range of bespoke (CMOS based redox camera / ion sensitive arrays) and off the shelf sensor systems (pH, UV, Raman, mass spectrometry). The project will integrate into and beyond existing sensor projects with Cumming (Multicorder), Optical Control (Padgett) and expand the use of cheap configurable robotic platforms for chemistry and biology that only can be enabled by sensor systems.

Project parts:

1) Design of liquid handling arrays for chemical and biochemical processing

2) Integration of fluidics and optics / spectroscopy (optical density measurements and fluorescence)

3) Programming the platform for real time evaluation

4) Design of algorithms for platform operation.

Frank Thomson

University of Glasgow

A Molecular Imaging Camera for Cancer Surgery

Every year in the UK more than 330,000 people are diagnosed with cancer and 160,000 succumb to the disease. The most effective strategy to combat most forms of cancer remains early detection followed by surgery, yet sadly surgery often fails to remove all of the cancer. For example, in the UK nearly 1 in 4 patients undergoing surgery for early-stage breast cancer will require a re-operation. Each re-operation costs about £25k, leading to a staggering cost of £200mn and $1.5bn annually to the UK and US healthcare systems respectively in breast cancer alone.

Cancer requires re-operation so frequently because surgeons have no means to detect the cancerous tissue during surgery other than visual and tactile assessment. Currently, 75% of breast cancer surgeons use no intraoperative assessment tool at all. Rapid pathology using frozen section analysis has very poor diagnostic performance and still requires 30-40 minutes of operating theatre time. The inability to see cancer during surgery plagues many common cancers including prostate, lung, gastric and colorectal cancers.

Consequently, there is a tremendous medical need for improved tools to detect cancer during surgery.

The proposed technology builds upon a very new development by our industry partner, Lightpoint Medical Ltd. They have developed a hand-held, molecular imaging camera to detect cancer in real-time during surgery. The device, called EnLight™, exploits a novel handheld optical system to image PET radiopharmaceuticals, which is the current gold-standard for in vivo diagnosis of cancer.

In this project, we will develop a novel scintillator and photonic crystal to improve the sensitivity of Lightpoint’s imaging device and thereby increase its use in the clinical setting and commercial potential. The scintillator will be developed to produce higher photon yield than the current CsI:Tl scintillator, and thus better sensitivity and shorter measurement times, both of crucial importance to clinicians and patients alike.

Margaret Normand

University of Edinburgh

Liquid Crystal Lasers for Biomedical Sensors

Liquid crystal lasers for biomedical applications:

In this project, new highly-bespoke tuneable and multi-wavelength liquid crystal microlasers will be designed and fabricated, and developed into prototype portable and semi-disposable coherent light sources.  Their performance will be evaluated as potential new laser sources in biomedical optical sensing and imaging techniques, including fluorescence microscopy, time-resolved spectroscopy and flow cytometry.

The ultimate aim is to develop low-cost and miniaturised on-chip integrated alternatives to existing biomedical photonics techniques, for point-of-care and field-based diagnostic applications.

Markus Nemitz

Markus Nemitz

University of Edinburgh

Development of Large-Scale Multimodal Sensor Systems

My doctoral studies concern the development of large-scale (>1000) sensor systems with a special focus on its sensing capabilities and ensuing sensing strategies. Applications range from surveillance to search and rescue missions. Hundreds to thousands of agents  (drones, gliders, boats, etc.) cooperatively detect ‘objects’ e.g. survivors after a natural disaster. While the individual agent is simple, the system’s capabilities arise from the interactions of many. Interestingly, research on large-scale collectives in nature (birds, ants, cells, etc.) shows that collective behaviours are often based on multi-range and multi-modal sensing to perceive and exchange signals at multiple levels and in several circumstances. The overall aim is to convert the characteristics of natural swarms into engineering advantages, specifically robustness, scalability, and flexibility.