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Nanoscale 3D printing of next generation photonic devices


Project Description

Imagine looking through a frosted glass window: the scene on the other side is distorted and the detail cannot be discerned. Now hold up a second piece of frosted glass in front of the first - suddenly you can see clearly through both as if they were transparent. This second piece of frosted glass doesn’t currently exist. The aim of this project is to design and build it.

Unscrambling light in this way enables more than simply looking through frosted glass: it heralds a range of powerful new applications to the fields of in vivo imaging, microscopy and blind 3D ranging (e.g. looking around corners), promising systems capable of imaging in situations previously considered intractable. For example, infra-red light can penetrate biological tissue, but the scattering scrambles spatial information it carries making direct imaging impossible. Understanding how to design and build photonic devices that unscramble this light will allow us to take the first steps towards high-resolution imaging inside the body, with harmless non-ionizing radiation. In addition, development of these new light-shaping systems simultaneously offers a wealth of new applications in, for example, optical computing, optical communications, and quantum optics.

To tackle this challenging area, through this project we will build a 3D direct laser writing system capable of creating waveguides and scattering occlusions directly into glass. These will designed to perform precise optical transformations. To achieve this, the project builds upon a number of recent computational and experimental breakthroughs, to both design and characterize the photonic devices, in which the supervisory team has lots of experience. Therefore, realizing the first of these artificial scattering systems is now within our reach. This is a primarily experimental project, although it will also involve some computational simulations, and programming for data analysis. There is a range of directions that the research can take, and during the latter stages of the project you will be encouraged to develop and follow your own ideas in this exciting new field.

In summary: This is an experimental project to develop photonic components and explore their applications to next generation imaging systems and beyond. You will be based in the University of Exeter physics department, and conduct your research in brand new dedicated laser lab facilities. You will join a friendly and enthusiastic team of eight researchers in the Phillips and Corbett research groups working in the area of photonic nanoscale 3D printing at Exeter. During the project you will develop significant expertise in programming, optical system design and, more generally, the fields of photonics and imaging. Throughout the project, there will also be opportunity to develop your communication skills through publication of peer-reviewed papers and attendance at international conferences. This research project would ideally suit a candidate with a background in one of the following disciplines: Physics, Electronic Engineering, Computer Science, Natural Sciences, although we will also consider enthusiastic applicants who demonstrate skills in related areas of science and technology.

The studentship will be aligned to the CDT in Metamaterials to enable access to comprehensive technical and transferable skills training.

Funding Notes

This 3.5 year studentship covers UK/EU/international tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay UK/EU/international tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £14,777 per year tax-free stipend. This studentship is funded through the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 804626).

How good is research at University of Exeter in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 40.20

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

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