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PhD in Physics and Astronomy - Neuromorphic Single Photon Imaging

   College of Science and Engineering

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  Dr Ashley Lyons  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

What could we learn if we were able to see individual photons with our eyes? Can we learn more if we can see when the photons arrive as well? Gaining access to time information from single photons can allow us to detect the distance to object (LiDAR), see through walls, fog etc. and even see around corners.

This project will investigate how single photon sensors can be combined with artificial neural networks designed specifically to mimic what’s happening in our brains. Our neurons encode and communicate information using a series of spikes known as Action Potentials where information is contained in how often these spikes occur. Whilst most Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) don’t use this spiking-like behavior, Spiking Neural Networks mimic the biology of real nervous systems by using the same kind of encoding. In much the same way, single photon detectors emit a voltage spike whenever a photon is present, with higher light intensities corresponding to more frequent spikes.

During your PhD you will be investigating how these two things can be joined together to produce a fundamentally new type of sensing technology. By using single photons and spiking networks, systems can be built where each individual photon provides new information that can be used for decision-making tasks e.g. identifying objects/hazards. This in turn has the potential for incredibly high-speed imaging for applications in autonomous driving and security and defence.

The PhD candidate will be located in the Extreme Light group in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Glasgow under the supervision of Dr Ashley Lyons. The group consists of around 25 PhD and postdoctoral researchers with lab/offices in the university’s new Advanced Research Centre. More information about the group, including relevant publications can be found at:

The candidate will also be interacting with colleagues at the University of Strathclyde (Dr. Gaetano di Caterina) and Leonardo on a regular basis.

We are particularly keen to receive applications from people from a range of backgrounds and communities. QuantIC has a commitment to fairness, inclusivity, and gender equality.

How to Apply: Please refer to the following website for details on how to apply:

Funding Notes

Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK (home student status) applicants for 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (estimated at £15,840 per annum, for Session 2022-23). Guidelines for home student status can be found here and include those with settled status.
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