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Astrophotonic technologies for exoplanet hunting


Project Description

Photonic technologies facilitate the manipulation of light in ways that are simply not possible using traditional optical technologies e.g. lenses, mirrors and diffraction gratings. As a result, they open up powerful possibilities in astronomical instrumentation, examples of which include exquisites optical fibre-based spectral filters to remove unwanted bright celestial light before it enters a sensitive instrument [1], and also the use of integrated photonic circuits for beam combination in stellar interferometry [2].

The photonic instrumentation group is a world leader in the development of advanced astrophotonic technologies, and we work with world leading astronomical instrumentation groups to translate these technologies into on-sky demonstrations [3, 4].

Through this PhD position, the successful student will have the opportunity to develop advanced astrophotonic technologies, such as mid-IR integrated beam combiners, that will transform the field of exoplanet science [2].

The student will gain experience in
• Free-space and integrated optics
• Photonic device simulation.
• Laser microfabrication
• Instrument control and automation
...and there may even be the opportunity to take devices to leading telescopes for on-sky testing, as we have done previously [3, 4].

The successful applicant will join the photonic instrumentation group at Heriot Watt University (phi.eps.hw.ac.uk), but will work with a multidisciplinary team from across the university and beyond.

Funding Notes

This 3.5 year fully-funded studentship comes with a significant amount of ring-fenced funding for conference travel.

Eligibility: This is a Research Council funded studentship, and thus only UK students, or EU students who have been resident in the UK for 3 or more years continually, are eligible for an award of a tax-free stipend (~£15k / year) and fees.

References

[1] J. J. Bryant et al, "Focus issue introduction: recent advances in
astrophotonics," Opt. Express 25, 19966-19967 (2017)
[2] A. Rodenas et al, "Three-dimensional mid-infrared photonic circuits in chalcogenide glass," Optics Letters 37, 392 (2012)
[3] R. J. Harris et al, “Photonic spatial reformatting of stellar light for diffraction-limited spectroscopy,” Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 450, 428–434 (2015)
[4] D. G. MacLachlan et al, “Efficient photonic reformatting of celestial light for diffraction-limited spectroscopy,” Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 464, 4950–4957 (2017)

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