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Ultra-high resolution microendoscopy

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Microendoscopy is a remarkable imaging technique that exploits single optical fibres with thousands of light guiding cores to image structures in confined regions of the body with ~ micron level resolution. Although this approach extremely powerful, facilitating the observation of disease processes inside the human body [1], it is very limited in terms of the spatial resolution that can be achieved. As a result, important pathogens such as bacteria, simply appear as bright spots, and no structural information about the pathogen is provided. As a result, precise identification of pathogens relies on pathogen-specific chemical smart-probes, that only become optically active when they attach to specific bugs.

If it were possible to achieve spatial resolutions of ~100 nm or even less, then it might be possible to directly identify pathogens based on their intrinsic autofluorescence and spatial structure, but the challenges of achieving such high spatial resolutions using a micro endoscopic platform are considerable. Recently, we have taken the first steps that show this is feasible using remarkable photonic devices known as "photonics lanterns" [2]. This PhD project will thus involve working to take this initial exciting work forward and to explore its feasibility for in-vivo imaging of pathogens.

The appointed student will have the opportunity to work on a wide range of experimental and theoretical techniques, including:
• Free-space and integrated optics
• Photonic device simulation.
• Laser microfabrication
• Computational optical imaging
• Instrument control and automation
...and many others.

The successful applicant will join the photonic instrumentation group at Heriot Watt University (, but will work with a multidisciplinary team from across the university and beyond.

Funding Notes

This 3.5 year fully-funded studentship comes with a significant amount of ring-fenced funding for conference travel.

Eligibility: This is a Research Council funded studentship, and thus only UK students, or EU students who have been resident in the UK for 3 or more years continually, are eligible for an award of a tax-free stipend (~£15k / year) and fees.


[1] A. R. Akram et al, Sci Transl Med 10, eaal0033 (2018)
[2] D. Choudhury et al, "Compressive optical imaging with a photonic lantern," arXiv:1903.01288v1 (2019)

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