Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
Sheffield Hallam University Featured PhD Programmes
Heriot-Watt University Featured PhD Programmes
Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University Featured PhD Programmes
Loughborough University Featured PhD Programmes

PhD in Engineering: Germanium-Tin Single Photon Detectors for LIDAR and Quantum Key Distribution

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  • Full or part time
    Dr R Millar
    Dr V P Georgiev
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Project overview
In this fully funded project (3.5 years) you will develop next-generation single photon avalanche diodes (SPAD) detectors for autonomous vehicle LIDAR and Quantum Key distribution applications, in a collaborative project that includes both industry and academia.

SPADs are devices that accurately time the arrival of individual photons of light. Your project will be centred on the development of SPADs operating from near-infrared (NIR) to mid-infrared (MIR) wavelengths, using Germanium-Tin (GeSn) alloys; a material that can be processed in the same Si foundries used for the electronics industry, making it mass-producible and cheap, in contrast to the existing technology. SPAD applications at infrared wavelengths include; light detection and ranging (LIDAR) - using light’s time-of-flight to measure distance; and quantum key distribution (QKD) - exploiting a photon’s quantum properties to enable unbreakable encryption over optical fibres. Infrared devices can also be used for pollution monitoring, by detecting methane leaks in natural gas pipelines. LIDAR is of enormous interest for ‘driverless-cars’, or autonomous vehicles (AVs), as it produces 3D maps of the environment, allowing for safe navigation. With operation at NIR wavelengths, the technology you develop will be crucial for long-range LIDAR systems with high atmospheric transmission, but at low-costs that allow for mass production.

The work will be collaboration between Dr. Ross Millar’s group, Dr. Vihar Georgiev (Device Modelling Group) and Prof Douglas Paul (Semiconductor Devices Group). The goal of this project will be to design, fabricate and characterise GeSn SPAD devices with the aid of advanced semiconductor device simulation. You will be required to take electrical and optical measurements to characterise the material and test devices, allowing for experimentally measured properties to be included in semiconductor device simulations. This will enable you to simulate and design optimal devices, which you will then fabricate in the state-of-the-art James Watt Nanofabrication Centre. Specific device architectures will be targeted to meet one of the exciting applications described previously – there is flexibility in the choice of application you wish to investigate.

The project will contribute to Dr. Ross Millar’s Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship (, which is supported by IQE Silicon, ID Quantique and Heriot Watt University (Prof. Gerald Buller), meaning you will have opportunities to liaise with external industrial and academic collaborators. Your work will also support a new collaboration involving Toshiba Cambridge, Jaguar Land Rover, Compound Semiconductor Global and a number of other academic partners. You will likely have an insight into the process of intellectual property and patent generation, either with commercialisation of previously submitted patents, or newly generated IP.

In completing the PhD project, you will develop a range of skills that will enable you to have a career in either academia or industry. This will include; nano-fabrication, vacuum systems, optics, integrated photonics, RF electrical measurements and a range of simulation techniques.

The ideal candidate will have a background in engineering, physics or chemistry, with background knowledge of semiconductor physics. No prior nano-fabrication experience is required. Experience of programming will also be beneficial to the project, but is not essential. You must be self-motivated, have good interpersonal skills, and be interested in conducting interdisciplinary work that combines theory, simulation, fabrication and characterisation.

Project Team
The student’s project will contribute to (primary supervisor) Dr. Ross Millar’s Royal Academy of Engineering research fellowship “Germanium-tin quantum detectors” (, in collaboration with the Device Modelling group (Dr. Vihar Georgiev).

Dr. Millar was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering research fellowship; this fellowship was underpinned by the development of world-leading Ge-on-Si SPAD devices operating at 1.31 µm wavelength (, which lead to a UK patent submission.
Dr Vihar Petkov Georgiev ( received his PhD degree from the University of Oxford in 2011. In 2011, he joined the Device Modelling Group, School of Engineering, University of Glasgow, where he was a Research Associate until August 2015. Form August 2015 until August 2019 he was a Lecturer and currently he is a Senior Lecturer in Electronics and Nanoscale Engineering and the Deputy Leader of the Device Modeling Group in the School of Engineering, University of Glasgow.

How to apply

For information on how to apply, or if you have any other questions, please contact [Email Address Removed]

Start dates: 1/9/20 – 31/10/20

Funding Notes

Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK/EU applicants for 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (estimated £15,245 for session 2020-21).

Degree (2.1 or above) in either Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, or similar.

How good is research at University of Glasgow in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 84.00

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2020
All rights reserved.