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Filming light at a trillion frames per second.

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Daniele Faccio
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Recent developments in optical technologies have enabled a wide range of novel and quantum technologies that are gradually making their way towards the market. At the same time, they have brought a revival in the interest for certain very fundamental aspects of optics, quantum optics and single or few photon physics. This project aims at developing a new and emerging technology, single-photon sensitive SPAD array cameras, that will allow us to observe the world in a fundamental and new way. Using these cameras, developed at Edinburgh University in collaboration with ST Microelectronics, we can make movies at an incredible frame rate of 20 billion frames per second. Each frame therefore has a temporal resolution of just 50 ps and is short enough to capture even the movement of light itself. Combined with the sensitivity of these cameras to single photons, new opportunities emerge ranging from fundamental studies on the nature of light propagation to seeing behind corners or even directly through walls. We will be investigating these possibilities together with novel developments in the field of computational imaging that will allow us to push the temporal resolution of the camera even further with the final goal of reaching 1 trillion frames per second.
Please see our research group website for more information and recent publications:

This research is well funded through multiple projects and the research group is also part of QuantIC, the Quantum Imaging Centre – one of four quantum technology hubs recently created in the UK by the government and EPSRC.

The project offers excellent links to industry and to users in a range of fields. We will consider student with good undergraduate Physics or Electronic Engineering backgrounds, or related disciplines. Prospective students should have a recent interest in experimental research. All tuition fees are paid and we offer an enhanced stipend for a full four years. Funding restrictions mean that only UK and EU citizens are eligible to be considered.

Heriot-Watt’s Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences is a thriving environment for PhD research, having a total of 160 academics, postdocs, PhD and EngD students working full-time in the general photonics field. Heriot-Watt is based in a modern environment on the outskirts of Edinburgh, with excellent transport links to the centre of one of Europe’s most exciting cities. Heriot-Watt was recently awarded (November 2013) an EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Applied Photonics, cementing Heriot-Watt’s reputation as a centre of excellence in photonics, and providing PhD students with an even more attractive environment for study, as well as enhanced training opportunities. IPaQS is one of the main partners in the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA) whose Graduate School provides added value to PhD student education in Scottish Physics Departments, principally in terms of inter-University video-linked taught courses and transferable skills tuition.

Funding Notes

All tuition fees are paid and we offer an enhanced stipend for a full four years. Funding restrictions mean that only UK and EU citizens are eligible to be considered.


Please supply 2 reference letters or 2 reference contact names.

How good is research at Heriot-Watt University in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 20.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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