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Advanced optical wireless communications based on deep-ultraviolet micro-LEDs

   Institute of Photonics

About the Project

Start date: 1 October 2022

Duration: 3.5yrs

Description: ‘Micro-LED’ is a revolutionary form of electronic visual display technology, which is semiconductor-based and utilises very high densities of micron-sized LED pixels. Advanced commercial micro-LED demonstrators now in the public domain include Samsung’s ‘The Wall™’ and Sony’s ‘Crystal LED™’ TVs, and virtual and augmented reality headsets based on this technology are being developed by such as Facebook and Microsoft.

The University of Strathclyde’s Institute of Photonics is a recognised international pioneer of this technology, which it has developed over the past 20 years. These devices have proven capabilities in application areas well beyond simple display functionality, including biophotonics, wireless optical communications networks, and quantum-level imaging. The attraction of this technology is underpinned by direct interfacing to CMOS electronics, operation at very high (Megahertz) frame rates, and data transmission at gigabits/second.

Here, as part of a funded collaboration with the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics – the UK’s only Fraunhofer research centre, which develops new technology for industry – we propose to investigate the optical wireless communications capability of micro-LEDs operating in the ultraviolet region of the spectrum. Ultraviolet light (here taken as spanning 260-370nm in wavelength) can expose photoresists for semiconductor manufacturing; it can propagate in atmosphere in spectral regions where solar radiation is absorbed and so can be ‘solar blind’ and available for exquisite forms of low light level sensing and optical communications; it can be used in sterilization and disinfection; it interacts selectively with atmospheric pollutants such as sulphur dioxide for novel forms of sensing. The development and fabrication of micro-pixel LED (micro-LED) devices in this wavelength region will impact all of these areas of application and beyond.

The successful applicant will combine advanced research in photonics with gaining underpinning experience in electronics, semiconductors and optical communications. He/she will learn to implement and characterize a range of ultraviolet-based micro-LED optical communications links, studying the underpinning device operation and the communications system performance.

The PhD student, advantageously having a background in physics or electronic engineering, will have access to state-of-the-art optical laboratories and extensive test and measurement equipment, and will engage in collaboration with Fraunhofer and its academic and commercial partners. 

Institute of Photonics: The Institute of Photonics (IoP), part of the Department of Physics, is a centre of excellence in applications-oriented research at the University of Strathclyde. The Institute’s key objective is to bridge the gap between academic research and industrial applications and development in the area of photonics. The IoP is located in the £100M Technology and Innovation Centre on Strathclyde’s Glasgow city centre campus, at the heart of Glasgow’s Innovation District, where it is co-located with the UK’s first Fraunhofer Research Centre. Researchers at the IoP are active in a broad range of photonics fields under the areas of Photonic Devices, Advanced Lasers and Neurophotonics, please see: http://www.strath.ac.uk/science/physics/instituteofphotonics/ourresearch/ . Strathclyde Physics is a member of SUPA, the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance.

The University of Strathclyde has, in recent years, been the recipient of the following awards: The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in the field of Advanced Manufacturing (2021); Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 Scottish University of the Year, The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education 2020 (and 2019), The Times Higher Education UK University of the Year 2019/2020 (and 2012/2013), The Times Higher Education Widening Participation Initiative of the Year 2019 and UK Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2013/2014. 

Student eligibility: To enter our PhD programme applicants require an upper-second or first class BSc Honours degree, or a Masters qualification of equal or higher standard, in Physics, Engineering or a related discipline. Full funding, covering fees and stipend, is available for applicants who are UK Nationals (meeting residency requirements) or have settled status (meeting residency requirements), pre-settled status or otherwise have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

How to apply: Applicants should send a CV to

Funding Notes

The funding covers the full stipend and tuition fees at the home rate (not the international rate). To be classed as a home student, applicants must meet the following criteria:
• Be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or
• Have settled status, or
• Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• Have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

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