A SPAD array
A retinal image

 Projects 2018/2019 Entry


Research projects are offered in the science and technology of sensing and measurement, across the traditional disciplines of Physics, Engineering, Chemistry and life sciences and across all domains of sensing and measurement: including electrical, optical and electromagnetic, radiation, gravity and acceleration, chemical and biochemical; for both imaging and single pixel-measurements.

Please see below for a list of the projects available at The University of Edinburgh and The University of Glasgow:

*  Indicates company sponsorship. All projects include the possibility of a summer internship with a company.


University of Edinburgh Projects

E_JOJ_1 : * Magnetic sensing of molecular materials with tuneable liquid crystal lasers

First Supervisor: Dr. J. Olof Johansson (School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh)
Second Supervisor: Dr. Philip J.W. Hands 
(School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh)

Magnetic materials have completely changed how we have accessed and made use of information during the last century. A continued development of new magnetic materials and new ways of controlling them is urgently needed so that we can make the most of large data sets, which will improve many aspects of our lives such as health care, government, logistics and will reduce global energy consumption. We will explore ways to use new types of laser sources in order to study and manipulate the magnetisation of thin films of novel molecular materials. By producing layers of differently coloured films, we will be able to use the unique colour of each layer as a fingerprint to record the magnetisation in each layer. This is an exciting approach to develop the fundamental understanding of how magnetic materials interact with light.  






E_PJWH_3 : * Wireless, wearable pressure sensors for sports equipment and medical compression clothing
First Supervisor: Dr Philip J. W. Hands, School of Engineering
Second Supervisors: Prof. Marc P.Y. Desmulliez  (Heriot Watt)

Gradient compression garments are widely used in medicine (for embolism prevention and burns recovery) and in sports clothing, but their efficacy has not been rigorously scrutinised. This lack of information is due partly to the absence of a suitable pressure sensing system, capable of reliably mapping the low pressures exerted by such clothing, whilst being practical enough (i.e. low-cost, flexible, small, with minimal wiring) to be used in clinical or sporting environment.

In this collaborative project between Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities, and in partnership with sports equipment manufacturers, the student will develop wearable and wireless pressure sensors, consisting of flexible micro-fabricated passive resonant electrical components. The project will also include the development of a hand-held wireless reader system for remote multiplexed data acquisition of many distributed sensors.  Collaborative opportunities also exist with textiles experts to integrate sensors into clothing and equipment.

This applications-focussed interdisciplinary project is at the interface of physics, chemistry, materials and electronics/electrical engineering.  The student will work in a variety of environments, including microfabrication cleanrooms and electronics labs, and will collaborate closely with both industrial and academic colleagues.

(Images below):

E_TA_1: * A Wearable Low Power Radio Frequency Head Imaging Device for Medical Diagnostics and Monitoring

First Supervisor: Prof. Tughrul Arslan (School of Engineering University of Edinburgh)
Second Supervisor: Dr. Jiabin Jia/ Dr. Adam Stokes (School of Engineering University of Edinburgh)

In this research, the development of a wearable device with a new Radio Frequency based sensor will be investigated for future biomedical imaging applications. The proposed wearable device aims to provide constant monitoring of people’s health condition via wireless connection. This device could be worn by patients with stroke and other health condition history as well as people involved in high risk sports. By identifying those diseases/conditions earlier, proper treatments could be provided. Several material and fabrication technologies will be explored such as 3-D printing and conductive inkjet printing technologies in addition to commonly used photolithography technique. The sensor design would have to meet several requirements such as ultra-wideband characteristic, flexibility and low power and area so that it could be integrated into the proposed wearable device. Effective characterisation techniques will be investigated based on reflection coefficient and transmission coefficient measurements.

E_AM_2:*Using hydrogels to produce microelectrode sensors

The project will focus on a fundamental understanding and systematic development of hydrogels on electrodes, with the goal of forming enhanced biosensors. The project will encompass synthesis of gelling materials, the formation of gels on microfabricated electrochemical arrays, characterisation by electrochemical, optical imaging and rheological methods, and the formation of enhanced biosensor systems. The student will work both in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and acquire multidisciplinary skills and training including electrochemistry, hydrogel formation and characterisation, rheological and imaging methods microfabrication and biosensor production and characterisation.

First supervisor: Prof Andy Mount, School of Chemistry
Second supervisors: Prof Dave Adams
E_RC_1 :*Micro-sensors for adaptive acoustic transduction
First Supervisor: Professor Rebecca Cheung, School of Engineering
Second Supervisor:Dr. Enrico Mastropaolo, School of Engineering,  Dr Michael Newton, School of Music

The research project involves the development and implementation of an adaptable microelectromechanical (MEM) acoustic transducer inspired by the behaviour of the human ear.  The detection of the acoustic signal and its conversion into the electrical domain can be performed with resonant gate transistors (RGTs). The active cochlear mechanism of the human ear could be replicated by integrating an array of RGTs with a feedback control system to operate as a selective real-time adaptive multichannel microphone. The potential outcome of this project will have tremendous impact on the fundamental understanding of sound interpretation as well as improvements in hearing aid technology.

E_JT_1: *Design, manufacturing and test of a lactate sensor for the detection of hypoxia during baby delivery
First Supervisor: Dr Jonathan Terry, School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh 
Joint second supervisor: Dr Fiona Denison, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, University of Edinburgh 
Joint second supervisor: Professor Marc Desmulliez, School of Engineering, Heriot Watt University

Currently 300,000 pregnant women a year in the UK have their babies monitored during labour using cardiotocography (CTG), as recommended by the NICE intrapartum care guideline. Changes in fetal heart rate seen on the CTG may reflect hypoxia and resulting acidaemia, which can be associated with brain injury. However, CTG changes are frequently seen when there is no underlying fetal problem, and interpretation of the heart trace is liable to misinterpretation. It is therefore recommended that fetal blood sampling, where a sample of blood is taken from the baby’s scalp, is used in conjunction with CTG monitoring to confirm the acid-base and lactate balance of the fetus. Unfortunately current methods of taking fetal blood samples are time-consuming, technically difficult, unreliable, and require the use of an expensive separate blood gas analyser. They also only give a snap-shot of the state of fetal wellbeing at the time of sampling and do not provide a continuous real-time assessment of fetal wellbeing. Subtle but serious changes in fetal wellbeing may therefore be missed.

There is an unmet need for a device capable of providing accurate real-time assessment of fetal acid-base and lactate state throughout labour to inform timing of delivery and prevent brain injury.

Tommy’s, the charity that funds research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, is a partner on this project.

Image, bottom right, (c)

University of Glasgow Projects

G_HW_1: * CASE Studentship in Interferometry techniques for the ESA L3 mission that will probe the Gravitational Universe
First Supervisor: Dr Harry Ward, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow
Second Supervisor:   Dr Ewan Fitzsimons, UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Edinburgh

This research studentship, aiming to develop technology for space-based detection of gravitational waves, is for collaborative research between UK-ATC (National centre for astronomical technology), the Institute for Gravitational Research at the University of Glasgow and the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligent Sensing and Measurement.

LISA – the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna – will be the European Space Agency’s third Large-class mission in its Cosmic Vision program and will become the world’s first ever space-based gravitational wave observatory. High sensitivity displacement measurement by optical laser interferometry lies at the very heart of the LISA mission, performed with a resolution of ~10 picometres over multi-gigametre baselines between separate spacecraft. These requirements are challenging, but through a mixture of ground and space-based tests the field is already far advanced in demonstrating their feasibility. In particular, the University of Glasgow (UGL) optical bench (OB) operating in the precursor technology demonstrator mission, LISA Pathfinder, has shown outstanding displacement metrology performance, that is well below that required for the intra-spacecraft measurements in LISA.

The UK Space Agency recently completed a competitive evaluation of proposed nationally funded contributions to L3. This resulted in agreement in principle to fund the optical bench subsystems, capitalising on the Glasgow success in the LISA Pathfinder mission. However the optical bench subsystem for L3 is a major undertaking, with significant increase in technical complexity compared with the OB developed for LISA Pathfinder, but a major increase also in number of payload items to be built. In light of the need for significant up-scaling of capacity, UGL and the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK-ATC) in Edinburgh have agreed to form a teaming arrangement, with in the short to medium term, scientific oversight and underpinning technology developments remaining primarily the province of UGL, with OB design and simulation, and ultimately building, testing and delivery of flight hardware being the prime responsibility of UK-ATC.

The research project will focus on developing various techniques which are essential for the development of the overall LISA optical system. Key topics include: development of analysis methods to determine the impact of stray light on the science measurement; investigations into the design and development of ultra-stable laser beam fibre couplers, and other optical systems, suitable for LISA; and development of alignment and displacement sensors and techniques which are capable of achieving the ultra-high precision required for the build and operation of the LISA optical metrology system.
The project is available for an early start.


G_KG_1: * Development of a Directional Mixed-field Sensor

First supervisor: Dr Kelum Gamage, School of Engineering, University of Glasgow

Second supervisor: Dr Graeme Taylor, National Physics Laboratory

Mixed field radiation monitoring is required in many sectors, including Energy, Defence, Security and Healthcare. Existing area survey meters typically over read in some energy regions and by design, they take no account of the direction of incidence, which may affect the risk to the exposed individual. The aim of this project is to design and develop a novel mixed field radiation dosemeter that takes account of both energy and direction to provide directly an estimate of effective dose. The successful student will use computer simulation to design the survey meter and then create a prototype for testing at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).

G_AH_1: * Computational imaging of the retina

First Supervisor: Professor Andrew Harvey, School of Physics and Astronomy
Second Supervisor: Dr G Carles University of Glasgow

This project will develop and apply new techniques for retinal imaging using emerging techniques in computational imaging to design a retinal camera able to beat some fundamental limits that apply to classical designs, aiming at achieving unprecedented combinations of resolution, field-of-view and image quality. The proposed innovations will challenge more than a century of momentum of the principles of retinal imaging, recoding images of up to 25Mpx with a field-of-view of up to 200 degrees in the human eye, covering a retinal area ten times higher than common fundus cameras can achieve, and currently only possible with bulky and expensive laser scanning devices.


G_GH_2: * Field testing a MEMS gravimeter

First Supervisor: Prof. Giles Hammond, School of Physics and Astronomy
Second Supervisor: Prof Douglas J Paul, School of Engineering

Over the last 3.5 years researchers at the University of Glasgow (School of Physics & Astronomy and School of Electrical & Nanoscale Engineering) have been developing a MEMS gravimeter. The device has already shown sufficient sensitivity and stability to make a first measurement of the earth tides; changes in the local acceleration of gravity caused by the elastic deformation of the earth, originating from the tidal potential of the moon and sun.

This project will perform field trials of the MEMS gravimeter and comparison tests with commercial instruments. Particular areas of research will focus on thermal control of the miniaturised package via a Peltier heater/cooler and robustness testing (field trials/shake tests) to determine the cumulative failure statistics of the device and techniques to improve robustness (e.g. development of limit stops and locking mechanisms).


G_PS_1: * Advanced In-hand 3D Sensing for Dexterous Robotic Manipulation

 First Supervisor: Dr Paul Siebert University of Glasgow
Second Supervisor: Professor Andy Harvey/Gerardo Aragon-Camarasa (CS)

The Shadow Robot Company and the School of Computing Science within the University of Glasgow are collaborating through an Innovate UK project to develop advanced 3D sensing methods to support dexterous robotic manipulation using Shadow’s advanced robot hand. This collaboration will develop a testbed to allow various types of 3D sensor to be validated using a sensing-processing pipeline that implements a robotic hand-eye manipulation task. A PhD project to extend this collaboration by investigating more advanced optics-based 3D sensing methods combined with state-of-the-art computer vision algorithms and Deep Learning techniques is proposed. The aim of this project is to develop a compact, robust and low-power 3D sensor suitable for being integrated within the robot hand itself in order to guide its operation when performing grasps or exploring a scene to search for objects.

G_PS_2: * An Optics-based Retina Sensor for Robotics and Egocentric Imaging Applications

First Supervisor: Dr Paul Siebert University of Glasgow
Second Supervisor: Professor Andy Harvey/John Williamson (CS)

Low cost, self-contained, visual sensing is a fundamental requirement for robotics and wearable vision applications. This PhD project is attempting to implement a model of human retinal processing by exploiting zero-power optical processing followed by with digital image transformations which feed Deep Learning neural networks capable of recognising objects or computing image flow or depth information used for guiding/controlling robotic manipulation systems. The benefit of this approach is that it’s ~x100 potential efficiency would allow a compact, integrated advanced robot vision sensor to be implemented on a low-cost smartphone platform or low-power embedded image processing computer.  The project is supported by an internship with the ARM Ltd.

G_JC_1: * Low cost multiplexed DNA Diagnostic Sensors for Infectious Diseases.

First Supervisor: Prof J Cooper ( School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Dr. Julien Reboud (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)

Nearly 260m people are infected with schistosomiasis, with >90% of infections found in sub-Saharan Africa. Worldwide ~3.2b people are at risk of malaria, many also in Sub-Saharan Africa. Both diseases are endemic in the same rural locations and there is difficulty in differentiating symptoms and informing correct diagnosis and treatment. Incorrect diagnosis is known to lead to unnecessary dispensation of drugs leading to increased probability of drug resistance. The rapid, low cost, field based genus specific diagnosis of both diseases within local rural communities, is key to ensure that appropriate administration of the correct drug(s) is carried out and continues until treatment is complete.


G_JC_2 : * New Medical Diagnostic Devices using Mobile Phones

First Supervisor: Prof J Cooper ( School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Dr. Julien Reboud/ Dr. Manlio Tassieri (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)

Point-of-care medical testing enables patients to obtain diagnostic results that inform clinical treatment, without visiting a specialist healthcare. Within the developed world this includes “bathroom testing” (eg pregnacy or sexual health) or home management of diseases (eg diabetes). In low and medium income countries (LMIC), the paradigm enables infectious disease testing “in-the-field” in rural areas where there is no specialized access to healthcare professionals. In either case the outcome is the same, namely new technology enabling timely and informed treatment and delivering healthcare benefits without direct access to clinical facilities.

Since their invention in 1973, mobile phones have become ubiquitous with >4.6b unique users (78% of subscriptions are in LMICs). Modern smartphones have ~14 built-in sensors including proximity, pressure, gyroscope as well as heart rate (used for the delivery of healthcare through m-health).   They now also offer an attractive platform for point-of-care medical diagnostics – providing a rechargeable battery, a high resolution camera for imaging, a CPU for processing data and a means of transmitting results (to enable “decision-support” from experts or expert systems).

G_HH_1: * CMOS-Based Magnetic Resonance Biomedical Sensors

First Supervisor: Dr. Hadi Heidari  ( School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Prof. David Cumming (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)

In recent years, growing interest in preventing cardiovascular diseases (CVD) using the dietary fatty acid intake has been paid a lot of attention. In western industrialized countries, the current indications for lipid intake have raised the question of the nature of fatty acid effects on human health. This project will initiate a new multidisciplinary investigation into cardiovascular system and quantitative etermination and analysis of fatty acid chain composition and magnetic resonance spectroscopy using electronic design of CMOS chips.

G_DF_1: * Sensing hidden and invisible environments

First Supervisor: Prof. Daniele Faccio  (School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Prof. Roderick Murray-Smith (School of Computing Science, University of Glasgow) or Prof. Robert Henderson  (School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh)

The recent development of single photon counting technology for the detection or imaging at extremely low light levels and quantum sensing applications, has also opened a route to novel sensing capabilities. A key advantage of single photon sensing that will be exploited in this project is the ability to precisely time the arrival of the photon on the detector. This has been used in LIDAR systems where the time-of-flight of light from a laser, to an object and back again provides precise (sub-mm) precision in the distance and even shape of the object. This concept can be extended to include multiple reflections and therefore detect and locate objects, even humans, that are hidden by a wall.

The same technology can also be used to detect extremely small, nanometre-scale vibrations from rigid surfaces, e.g. a wall, a cell phone or skin. By shining a laser onto the surface, single photon cameras can pick up vibrations generated by a variety of sources (a personal talking, a heart beating, music played in the room) that are imprinted onto the reflected beam. This will have a variety of applications such as health monitoring and determination of the mechanical properties of the road  surface for the automotive industry.

This field of “single photon sensing” is rapidly gaining momentum and this project will develop some of the pioneering results obtained at UofG to further the next generation of sensors for healthcare, defence and self-driving cars.

G_JR_1: * Achieving Single Molecule Detection Limit in Silicon Nanowire Biosensors

First Supervisor: Dr. Julien Reboud (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Dr. Vihar Georgiev (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)

In healthcare as well as security and defense, there is a significant interest in enabling the ultimate biosensing sensitivity, detecting a single molecule. This has been achieved in research laboratories, including our own, with advanced equipment, but the translation of research findings to clinics or the field has been limited due to the expertise and complex infrastructure required.

The main aim of this project is to develop new Silicon Nanowire biosensors to reach the sensitivity limit, using a unique combined approach of new modelling and experiments. This project will open new capabilities for Si micro/nanoelectronics beyond the current CMOS applications.

Scheme – single molecule nanowire sensor



G_RB_1: * Ultra-fast pixel detectors with Low Gain Avalanche Pixel Sensors

First Supervisor: Dr. Richard Bates (School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Prof. Craig Buttar (School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow)

The Glasgow PPE group is a well know innovator of semiconductor detectors for particle physics and other applications. It is a founding member of the Medipix/Timepix collaboration, which has developed a highly successful single phonon counting pixel chip. The group innovates in the area of semiconductor radiation detectors and has recently developed a novel device with internal gain that allows for a very fast signal generation. The project builds on the group’s relationship with Micron Semiconductor Ltd and the Diamond light source to develop and demonstrate silicon pixel detectors with better than 200 ps timing resolution for a range of applications.

G_PS_1: * A Smart Band-Aid Sensor for Fatigue Monitoring

First Supervisor: Prof. Paul Steinmann (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Dr. Peigeng Li (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)

A novel smart sensor to record the closeness of an engineering structure to fail under cyclic loading is developed. The cool thing is that it can be attached to vulnerable components pretty much like a band-aid and therefore is a very flexible device. An example for its use are aircraft wings that experience oscillations, non-predictable in terms of their number and amplitude, during every flight operation. Unavoidably, after a too long operation time these wings are thus doomed to fail. Therefore the gradual accumulation of damage during operation needs to be monitored, however without requiring extensive and expensive service time on the ground. This is exactly the arena for the application of the novel smart band-aid damage sensor to be developed.

G_MT_1: * Innovative Rheology (i-Rheo) for material characterization and diagnostics

First Supervisor: Dr. Manlio Tassieri (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Dr Graham Gibson (School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Glasgow), Dr David Moran (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow) Prof. Markus Meissner (MVLS, University of Glasgow)

Rheological studies underpin the design and the production of most of the industrial processed materials, including oil derivatives, drugs and foodstuff. However, despite the deep knowledge of the theoretical framework underpinning this field of research, rheological techniques have rarely been fully exploited as either diagnostic methods or Point-of-Care devices. The aim of this PhD project is to develop a new set of rheological methods and devices for measuring the mechanical properties of (biological) liquids by using only a ‘droplet’ of sample volume, and to explore their application as new diagnostic and Point-of-Care devices for blood diseases.

Figure 1. Photorealistic product CAD design of i-Rheo, a versatile mobile device for material characterization, diagnostic and Point-of-Care applications.


G_RW_1: * Development of an Airborne Ranging System for Surveying River Topography

First Supervisor: Dr. Richard Williams (School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Dr. Henrik Hesse and Dr. Sutthiphong Srigrarom (School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow)

High-resolution topographic maps are critical in understanding geomorphological processes, such as dynamics of river topoography in flood areas, and have become very relevant in autonomous driving. This project aims to develop an aerial mapping sensor which integrates an unmanned aerial platform with Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology. To improve the accuracy of the system, the project will address precision localisation of the airborne LiDAR platform using vision, range and inertial sensors. Through collaboration with industrial partners in Scotland and Singapore the sensor platform will be demonstrated on fluvial sites where the survey data will be used for hydro-morphodynamic modelling.

G_RH_1: * Superconducting Sensors for Passive Terahertz Imaging

First Supervisor: Prof. Robert Hadfield, (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: 

There is a tremendous demand in the transportation industry for improved methods of passenger screening.   Superconducting terahertz sensors offer the contrast and sensitivity to monitor concealed objects.  Next generation superconducting terahertz arrays provide a route to video rate screening of moving crowds.  This project will focus on underpinning superconducting materials and device technology under development in the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre at the University of Glasgow.  You will optimise material growth through sputtering and atomic layer deposition, carry out low temperature measurements in the Quantum Sensors laboratories at the University of Glasgow and fabricate test devices to be evaluated with our partner QMC Instruments in passive terahertz imaging applications.  This project is closely linked to QuantIC, the UK Quantum Technology Hub in quantum enhanced imaging.


Prototype superconducting terahertz sensor

G_RD_1: * Sweat based sensors for Health monitoring

First Supervisor: Prof. Ravinder Dahiya, (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Prof. Sandosh Padmanabhan (MVLS, University of Glasgow)

This project will investigate an alternative approach for non-invasive monitoring of NCDs such as diabetes. Wearable and disposable sensors capable of detecting and measuring glucose and pH in body fluid such as sweat will be developed. To this end, a blend of nanotechnology, micro-fabrication of new printable electronics will be used to produce highly sensitive sensors. The key components of this project are fabrication of pH and glucose sensors by printing suitable materials (e.g. metal oxides) on flexible and disposable substrates, the sweat collection procedure, and effect of environment conditions on the sweat collection times and correlation of sweat and blood for glucose levels. The prospects of such a wearable sensor patch are significantly higher for adoption in emerging m-health and personalized medicine. At the interface of Sensing, biology, healthcare technology and flexible electronics, this project will open an interesting new direction. The research will be carried out in the Bendable Electronics and Sensing Technologies (BEST) group at University of Glasgow.


G_DP_1: * A single chip cold atom atomic clock

First Supervisor: Prof. Douglas Paul, (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: 

 Atomic clocks are the most accurate timing system yet developed. They are used as timing standards essential for the internet and communications but also are essential for navigation and part of the key technology in satellites for GPS navigation. There are many other potential applications for financial trading and GPS-free personal navigation if a cheap, practical, miniature atomic clock can be realised. The US National Institute for Standards and Technology developed a chip scale atomic clock in the 2000s which has an accuracy of nanoseconds using a heated rubidium vapour in a miniature gas cell whose accuracy is limited by the velocity of the atoms in the gas through Doppler broadening.

This project has the aim of producing a single chip cold atom atomic clock where lasers are used to Doppler cool atoms to milliKelvin temperatures to enable a chip scale atomic clock with a sub-picosecond accuracy. This is an improvement by 3 orders of magnitude over any demonstrated chip scale clock. The project will integrate diode lasers with integrated waveguides, a Micromechanical Mechanical Electrical Microsystem (MEMS) gas cell, photodetectors, grating magneto-optical traps and high Q resonators to deliver an atomic clock.

The student should have an undergraduate degree in Physics, Electrical and Electronic Engineering or an equivalent degree. They will design and model devices and be working in the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre to fabricate the clocks before testing the devices. The work will be collaborative with the companies M Squared Lasers, Kelvin Nanotechnology and Optocap as part of an InnovateUK Quantum Technology project.


G_DP_2: * Short and mid-infrared single photon detectors and arrays for range finding and automotive LIDAR

First Supervisor: Prof. Douglas Paul, (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: 

Time correlated single photon detection enables a photon to be sent and the time it takes to return to be recorded. From this measurement and knowing the speed of light, the distance the photon has travelled can be calculated which is a technique known as rangefinding. There are many applications of rangefinding which include 3D imaging and seeing around corners but also it is a key technology for the navigation of autonomous vehicles so they do not bump into objects around them. Rangefinders are also important for road vehicles and one major application in the automotive industry is for sensors to determine if a car might crash so that the driver can be warned or preventative measures can be undertaken. The technology could also be used in digital and mobile phone cameras for autofocusing.

This project aims to develop the key device required for rangefinding at the important eye-safe wavelengths of 1.55 µm but also investigate longer wavelengths where the technology could be used for direct gas identification and imaging. The project will involve designing Ge and GeSn materials on a silicon substrate as the absorber layers for single photon detectors before fabricating a range of different single photon detectors and then testing them. At present all room temperature commercially available single photon detectors at this wavelength rely on expensive InGaAs technology which is too expensive for consumer markets and has US export controls. This project is aiming to develop much cheaper technology on a silicon platform that could be mass produced in silicon foundries allowing large arrays to be produced.

The student should have an undergraduate degree in Physics, Electrical and Electronic Engineering or an equivalent degree. They will design and model devices and be working in the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre to fabricate the devices before testing the photodetectors. The project is in collaboration with the companies Optocap and IQE as part of an InnovateUK project.

G_DP_3: * Squeezed Light Interferometer for Measuring Gravity

First Supervisor: Prof. Douglas Paul, (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Prof. Giles Hammond (School of Physics and Astronomy (University of Glasgow)

Work at the University of Glasgow has already taken a silicon mass on a spring fabricated using the same Micro- Electro Mechanical System (MEMS) technology to the gyroscope in all smart phones that determine orientation and improved the sensitivity by a factor of 5000. This MEMS gravimeter has the potential to be used to search for new oil & gas researches, find buried utilities quickly thereby reducing roadworks and provide an early warning for volcanic eruptions. This project aims to deliver a quantum squeezed light source with pairs of correlated photons that can be used to measure the output of the MEMS gravimeter to improve the sensitivity by up to a factor of 40. The project also involves developing Ge photodetectors that can detect single photons which also has applications of rangefinding and LIDAR (determining how far away objects are by bouncing photons off them and timing their return) at wavelengths of light that can see through rain, mist and fog. A Michelson interferometer will be developed in a silicon chip using four wave mixing for the squeezed light source, a beam splitter and Ge photodetectors where the silicon proof mass is the moving mirror in the interferometer to enable squeezed light measurement of the displacement.

The project is in collaboration with Optocap and IQE as part of an InnovateUK project. The student should have an undergraduate degree in Physics, Electronic and Electrical Engineering or an equivalent subject. They will design and model the interferometer and be working in the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre to fabricate the sensors before testing the devices.


G_DP_4: * Atomic Magnetometers for Magnetospinography Assessment of Nervous System Diseases

First Supervisor: Prof. Douglas Paul, (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Dr. John Riddle (School of Medicine, University of Glasgow)

The ability to detect small magnetic fields has many applications and in the medical field superconducting SQUID based detectors have demonstrated the ability to monitor brain and nerve activity suitable for the study and diagnosis of a wide range of diseases. Such superconducting devices have significant limitations mainly relating to their cryogenic operation requirement which also limits the lateral resolution of the imaging technique. For spinal cord or nerve imaging in arms and hands, the total imaging area may only be a few mm to a cm wide and so sufficient resolution is required to image such biological systems. More recently a number of groups have demonstrated the use of optical probing of the spin states of atoms in gases to be able to detect changes in magnetic field down to femtoTesla (1 part in 10^15) levels. This project aims to deliver Rb atoms in a MEMS fabricated cell with integrated 780 nm DFB lasers and silicon photodetectors to deliver a multipixel magnetometer imaging array suitable for a range of applications including magnetospinography applications. The work will be in collaboration with the School of Medicine in Glasgow and the School of Physics in Strathclyde University.

The successful student should have an undergraduate degree in Physics, Electronic and Electrical Engineering or an equivalent subject. They will design and model the interferometer and be working in the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre to fabricate the sensors before testing the devices.

G_HY_1: * An integrated microfluidic-optical system for rapid diagnosis of antibiotic resistance

First Supervisor: Prof. Huabing Yin, (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Prof. Andy Harvey (School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow)

Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in the UK and globally. Currently, the discovery of new antibiotics is outpaced by the emergence of resistance. Before new therapies become available, rapid diagnosis of bacterial infection to specify the correct treatment is a means to slow the development of this resistance. Here, we aim to develop a novel microfluidic-optical imaging system that allows rapid antibiotic resistance tests, within hours. Central to this system is developing an advanced single cell imaging capability. This will build upon the integration of microfluidic technology for rapid sample processing and a novel multi-spectral imaging that allows multiplex analysis of phenotypic function of individual cells.

G_AH_2: * Adding the third dimension to super-resolution microscopy

First Supervisor: Prof. Andy Harvey (School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Dr. Jonny Taylor (School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow), Dr Martyn Reynolds (Cairn Research), Dr Paul Zammit (University of Malta)

In recent years super-resolution microscopy (SRM), also known as localisation microscopy, has emerged as a powerful technique for imaging single molecules with a precision of a few nm; that is, substantially smaller than the diffraction-limited resolution of about 0.5mm. SRM is based on the ability to localize the centroid of single emitters (eg proteins) with high precision and for high spatial resolution it is necessary to employ objectives with high numerical aperture and this consequently yields a depth of field that is typically of the order of a microns, which is much thinner than a cell and many biological samples of interest. The Imaging Concepts Group at Glasgow has recently demonstrated computational imaging techniques based on Airy Beams and  that are able to increase the depth of field for imaging and for point localisation by more than an order of magnitude. The ICG has also developed unique real-time spectral imaging techniques with the high optical throughput that is essential for microscopy.

This project will demonstrate state-of-the-art performance in the following fields:  real-time 3D super-resolution microscopy with extended depth of field; real-time multi-species (n>4)  super-resolution microscopy and a combination of these two techniques.

An important objective of the research is to enable these techniques to be incorporated into commercial microscopy systems manufactured by our project partners.

G_MC_1: * Pulsed refractometry with nonclassical light

First Supervisor: Dr. Matteo Clerici  (School of Engineering, University of Glasgow)
Second Supervisor: Prof. Daniele Faccio (School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow)

Progress in quantum metrology and technology allowed us to overcome the limitations imposed by the discretised nature of the electromagnetic radiation and to detect an effect with unprecedented sensitivity.

This PhD project focuses on leveraging on these novel capabilities to overcome the current limit on the detection of small changes in the optical length of objects (of the order of femtometer), such as those induced by time-varying laser fields. These new approaches shall be tested on different applications, among which infrared spectroscopy and nonclassical communication.