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High-speed high-density structured illumination with gallium nitride micro-LEDs


About This PhD Project

Project Description

The Institute of Photonics is a recognized international pioneer of micro-LEDs, arrays of micron-sized light-emitting diodes constituting a new high-brightness microdisplay and backlighting technology – being applied, for example, to advanced virtual and augmented reality headsets. These displays interface to CMOS electronics and can be modulated at very high (megahertz) frame rates and communicate data at gigabits/second. Such rapidly modulated patterned light enables a form of optical projection called structured illumination with applications in indoor navigation, spatially modulated data communications, single pixel imaging and bio-imaging. These GaN microdisplays are extremely energy efficient and can be run with ultra-low photon flux. By coupling these displays with high speed single photon avalanche detector (SPAD) arrays, we have demonstrated noise resilient photon level communications as well as 3D and multi-spectral imaging methods. Initial demonstrations with 16×16 LED arrays operating at 2-30 kHz in the 30 photons per bit regime have already garnered significant interest from the scientific and industrial communities.

This project will transform these earlier concept demonstrations into an unexplored regime of high pixel count and MHz update rates. The research is based on a new generation of 128×128 LED arrays, which are currently being developed at the Institute of Photonics in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, and which present a host of new challenges and opportunities. In order to operate these high-density arrays in the millions of frames per second regime, it is necessary to accurately control the timing of more than 70 parallel digital control signals with nanosecond precision. The successful applicant will help to develop electronic control interfaces that meet these demands, investigate their effect in different device configurations (e.g. different LED emission wavelength from deep UV to green), and link them to demands from specific applications. They will integrate these LED arrays into prototype systems for microfabrication, high frame-rate imaging with single photon sensitivity, and new digital systems that merge sensing and communications functions. The project will encompass optical systems design and development, electronic driver and software coding and sparse data signal processing techniques. The PhD student will have access to state-of-the-art, custom LED and SPAD array devices, optical characterisation facilities and software tools, and will contribute to the UK’s national programme on Quantum Technologies.

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 Times Higher Education UK University of the Year 2012/13 and UK Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2013/14. 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, 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/.

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