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Doctor of Engineering (EngD) - Ultrashort-Pulse Optical Frequency Combs for Quantum Technologies and Sensing (University of Strathclyde)

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  • Full or part time
    Prof A Kemp
    Prof D Reid
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

Optical frequency combs are key to many Quantum Technologies: providing the ‘clockwork’ that stably links supremely accurate optical clocks to radio-frequency information that can be more readily exploited; and generating the ultra-stable microwave frequencies that will be required for next-generation Doppler LIDAR.

However, today’s optical frequency combs are generally large and lab-based, lacking the robustness to be truly mobile. This 4-year EngD project will investigate innovative new optical frequency combs that reduce size, weight and power consumption while increasing reliability and providing extremely high stability, as is required for application to next generation optical clocks and radar.

The project will design, build and test optical frequency combs based upon modelocked ultrashort-pulse solid-state lasers. The project will take advantage of the Institute of Photonics at Strathclyde University and the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics’ experience in diode-pumped Ti:Sapphire lasers, and push these systems further towards miniaturised and ultra-stable architectures. The project will also be supported by Caledonian Photonics Ltd, a startup company with strong links to end-users of optical frequency combs, and experience in robust solid-state laser design.

The Candidate

Essential Criteria
The aspects of the project outlined here would be ideally suitable for a candidate having, or expecting to obtain, a 1st or 2:1 honors degree in Physics or a related subject. We are looking for a self-motivated individual, who can work flexibly and independently. They should possess an interest in the physics and engineering of laser devices. They must be enthusiastic to learn and to take on the leadership of technical activities.

Desirable Criteria
This will be a hands-on project and candidate should have good experimental skills, and relevant experience would be beneficial. They may want to develop their electronics skills by designing and constructing laboratory instrumentation.

Flexible Working
Fraunhofer UK would be open to discussions around flexible working to allow high-quality candidates to take up the studentship.

Working Environment
Fraunhofer UK is a not-for-profit Research and Technology Organisation (RTO) whose mission is to provide professional R&D services to benefit the UK economy through its Centre for Applied Photonics responding to companies’ needs in the development of photonic technologies. We perform demand driven applied research combined with scientific excellence through strong integration with academia. Fraunhofer CAP is autonomous, allowing the Centre to best serve the UK photonics community but as part of the wider Fraunhofer network. Fraunhofer CAP personnel have decades of academic and industrial R&D experience in: lasers and optical systems for cold atom sensors, ultrafast laser inscription, optical instrumentation engineering and technology, product development, and delivering Innovate UK and Horizon 2020 and ESA TRP projects. They are familiar with a whole manner of R&D work from feasibility studies to the realities of taking a product from new scientific concept through to market while disseminating the outcomes and protecting IP in order to maximise benefit to the commercial partner(s) and thereby the UK economy.

Fraunhofer is consistently the most popular destination for top-level science and technology graduates in Germany to continue their studies towards doctorate level degrees. It is hoped that there will be the opportunity for the student to spend some time at the sister Fraunhofer institute – The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF in Freiburg, Germany.

The Institute of Photonics at the University of Strathclyde undertakes applied research in photonics, with lasers as one of its three research pillars. Prof. Alan Kemp co-leads the Institute’s lasers research theme, and has been the academic supervisor for five Fraunhofer CAP co-sponsored doctoral studentships including two EngDs.

Caledonian Photonics Limited is a Scottish start-up company in the field of robust, miniaturised solid-state lasers. Caledonian Photonics’ founder and CEO, Dr Stephen Lee, has 23 years of experience in the design and manufacture of solid-state lasers and their integration into optical systems. Stephen’s PhD from the University of Strathclyde in experimental laser physics concentrated on increasing the stability of mode-locked laser systems, including those based upon Ti:Al2O3. He further developed this area of expertise during his 6 years at Coherent as a laser design engineer engaged in new product design and introduction of ultrashort-pulse modelocked Ti:Al2O3 lasers for bioscience applications. Stephen then spent 10 years at Thales UK developing robust lasers for harsh environments and became Design Authority for the Thales Defence Lasers product line. Stephen’s background provides an unusual combination of the deep understanding of modelocked lasers, coupled with great experience of laser product design for stability and reliability, all of which is very relevant to this project.

Funding Notes

This 4-year (including CDT taught-courses) project is funded jointly by Fraunhofer CAP and by the CDT in Applied Photonics, run by Heriot-Watt University. This academic supervisor for the project is based at the University of Dundee. The annual stipend is £20,777, which includes an enhancement from Fraunhofer CAP. A substantial consumables and equipment budget is provided by a concurrent EPSRC grant. Travel funding for conference presentations is also available.
The successful applicant will be a full-time registered student of the University of Strathclyde as well as a non-graduating student of Heriot-Watt University.

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