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Doctor of Engineering (EngD): Hybrid Optical-Digital Coherence Tomography (Optos and University of Dundee)

School of Engineering & Physical Sciences

Edinburgh United Kingdom Optical Physics Physics

About the Project

Optos Plc is a leading provider of diagnostic devices for the eyecare professional. Optos is a part of Nikon, and has offices in four continents. One of the drivers for the global success of Optos has been its continuous investment in research and innovation, including academic collaborations and doctorate programs. In some cases, this has also led to later recruitment.

Research and innovation at Optos resulted in the ultra-widefield (UWF™), high-resolution optomap imaging technique. The ability to image 82% or 200° of the retina in a single snapshot facilitates early and accurate diagnoses, and is unparalleled to any other device on the retinal imaging market. Imaging of the retina at the back of the human eye is key to a timely diagnosis of diseases such as macular degeneration. Of growing importance is optical coherence tomography (OCT), a technique that enables three-dimensional depth ‘sections’ of the retina. A major obstacle is that aberrations blur the peripheral of the field-of-view; precluding the detection of diseases in an early stage. This project aims to overcome this limitation.

The aim is to develop a hybrid optical-digital imaging technique tolerant to the inherent optical imperfections in the eye and imaging optics. The project balances experiment (optical design, analysis, and implementation) and numerical processing using Matlab, Python, or C/C++. The first objective is to overcome the aberrations introduced by the anterior segment of the human eye. A hybrid, optical-digital approach will be investigated, aimed specifically at wide-field imaging. The second objective is to develop the first Hybrid Optical-Digital OCT system, exploiting the depth information to obtain sharper lateral resolution. The main challenge is deriving the optimal phase-modulation for the hybrid imaging system. This will require accurate modelling of complex optical-digital system and detailed analysis of different potential designs. A secondary challenge is to strike the optimal balance between light-efficiency and diffusion-suppression in the hybrid OCT system. With an eye on commercialisation, a method must be developed to compute spatially-variant deconvolutions in real time.

In addition to designing and constructing novel optical systems in the lab, this research project demands a solid understanding of light propagation as well as coherent and incoherent image formation. Prior to the construction of the hybrid optical-digital imaging instrument, the successful candidate will program rigorous computer simulations and software to process and analyse image data.

The development of the first hybrid optical-digital OCT device will enable high resolution over the entire field-of-view. Its development will also lead to an improved knowledge of birefringence in the retina and other optical properties of the human eye. The outcomes of this project directly translate to opportunities for commercialisation by Optos Plc.

Essential Criteria

The successful candidate should:

· hold, or be close to completing, a degree (ideally MSc) in physics, optics, computer science, or related discipline,

· have good verbal and written communications skills,

· be a fast learner, self-motivating, and able to organise one’s own time to meet deadlines,

· have a solid understanding of optical theory

· have demonstrable experience with experimental optics or programming physics simulations,

· be keen to develop the understanding and skills to simulate optical image formation and analyse data,

· demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate their work and that of other scientists,

· be able to work alone, and as part of a team, to develop a novel imaging device in the lab,

· be able to follow instructions and guidelines.

Desirable Criteria

The ideal candidate would have excellent communications skills, both verbally and written, have demonstrable experience with both experimental optics and computational methods to simulate optical imaging systems and have a prior high-quality publication.

The successful candidate will be based at Optos Plc in Dunfermline, and conduct research within the Research and Development department. The project will be supported academically through the University of Dundee. While a student is not expected to spend extended periods of time at the University, some specific experiments may have to be conducted at the physics department in the School of Science and Engineering. Although all of Optos’ research is concentrated in Scotland, it is a Nikon company with a worldwide customer base. This pairs an outstanding research environment with the experience of working within a global company.

Funding Notes

Funding for this position may vary depending on the nationality/status of the applicant.
The CDT in Applied Photonics provides a supportive, collaborative environment which values inclusivity and is committed to creating and sustaining a positive and supportive environment for all our applicants, students, and staff. For further information, please see our ED&I statement View Website. Forming a supportive cohort is an important part of the programme and our students take part in various professional skills workshops, including Responsible Research and Innovation workshops and attend Outreach Training.

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