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Reinventing laser system design rules for autonomous robotic assembly of lasers (EPS2022/30)

   School of Engineering & Physical Sciences

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  Prof D Esser, Dr R Carter  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The rules for designing a laser system are determined, in large part, by manufacturing capabilities and the skills of people aligning complex optical paths. However, in the near future the alignment of laser systems will be done by AI-driven robotic assembly and will therefore lead to significant changes of the rules of assembly. This exciting new PhD research project will aim to reinvent the optical design rules, taking into account the advantages of human-inspired machine-learning and robotic alignment, as well as our pioneering laser-based manufacturing. These new procedures, which will be implemented by the PhD student in the state-of-the-art research labs, will be benchmarked against the new design goals in terms of obtainable tolerances, part numbers and the degrees of freedom necessary for future industrial laser systems.

This PhD will work alongside the team of researchers from the EPSRC (Part of the UK national research council) project EP/V051164/1/1 “Developing Machine Learning-empowered Responsive Manufacture of Industrial Laser Systems.” This is an exciting large scale, interdisciplinary project which will be one of the first housed within the new multi-million pound National Robotarium facility at HWU.

The team of researchers include experts in laser system design and manufacturing, robotic control, artificial intelligence and human behaviour analysis, laser-based manufacturing, as well as engineers from our key industrial partners Renishaw, Leonardo, Luxinar, Gooch & Housego and others.

The student will be Supervised by Prof M J Daniel Esser who leads the Laser Device Physics & Engineering group at Heriot-Watt University, and Dr Richard Carter, Principal Investigator for this project and key member of the High Power Laser Applications group.

The Laser Device Physics & Engineering group drives the research and development of future laser sources in the near-infrared and mid-IR, demonstrating and exploiting new high-brightness diode laser technologies, novel solid-state laser crystals, and new manufacturing and assembly methods applied to laser system design and assembly.

The High Power Laser Applications group uses a wide range of laser sources (from CW through to ultra-short pulsed lasers) to pioneer the research on laser-material processing and manufacturing.

Our research groups form part of the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences, ( at Heriot-Watt University, and we have won the 2021 Queen’s Anniversary Prize for pioneering research in the frontier science of photonics. The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are the highest national Honours available to the UK’s further and higher education sector. Heriot-Watt University was selected for its ground-breaking and sustained research that has helped advance photonics technology in the last five decades.

How to Apply

1. Important Information before you Apply

When applying through the Heriot-Watt on-line system please ensure you provide the following information:

(a) in ‘Study Option’

You will need to select ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Postgraduate Research’. ‘Programme’ presents you with a drop-down menu. Choose Chemistry PhD, Physics PhD, Chemical Engineering PhD, Mechanical Engineering PhD, Bio-science & Bio-Engineering PhD or Electrical PhD as appropriate and select September 2022 for study option (this can be updated at a later date if required)

(b) in ‘Research Project Information’

You will be provided with a free text box for details of your research project. Enter Title and Reference number of the project for which you are applying and also enter the potential supervisor’s name.

This information will greatly assist us in tracking your application.

Please note that once you have submitted your application, it will not be considered until you have uploaded your CV and transcripts.

Funding Notes

There are a number of scholarships available which offer funding from between 3 and 3.5 years at an average stipend rate of £15,000 per year.
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