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Engineering Doctorate (EngD): Photonics devices for high performance astronomical spectroscopy of exoplanets (STFC, UK ATC)

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Reid
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

Project not available to Non UK/EU applicants

The EngD is an alternative to a traditional PhD aimed at students wanting a career in industry. Students spend about 75% of their time working directly with a company in addition to receiving advanced-level training from a broad portfolio of technical and business courses. On completion students are awarded the PhD-equivalent EngD.


Project Details -
The UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) is a world leader in the production of astronomical instrumentation for large ground and space based telescopes, whilst also developing new technologies to improve the performance of future instruments. One key area currently under study with Heriot-Watt University is the development of novel photonics structures that can be used to manipulate a beam of light.
These use ultrafast laser inscription to modify the refractive index of glass, enabling the production of a variety of complex photonics structures in a single piece of glass.

This project will focus on the development of photonic dicers, which convert multimode light into single mode light, and waveguides, which are used to transport light. Such devices will improve the performance of high-resolution spectrographs, allowing better detection and even characterization of distant exoplanets. During this project the candidate will be hosted at the UK ATC where they will work on optical design, theoretical performance modelling, and laboratory testing of photonics structures. The candidate will also manufacture photonics devices using the equipment at Heriot-Watt University and work with the astronomy team at the UKATC to demonstrate the performance of their photonic devices on a large telescope.


About Heriot-Watt University -
Heriot-Watt is based in a modern environment on the outskirts of Edinburgh, with excellent transport links to the centre of one of Europe’s most exciting cities. Heriot-Watt was recently awarded (November 2013) an EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Applied Photonics, cementing Heriot-Watt’s reputation as a centre of excellence in photonics, and providing PhD students with an even more attractive environment for study, as well as enhanced training opportunities. The project will be based in Renishaw PLC, which shares a campus with Heriot-Watt University.

Heriot-Watt Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences (IPAQS)
IPAQS is a thriving environment for PhD research, having a total of 160 academics, postdocs, PhD and EngD students working full-time in the general photonics field. It’s a friendly collaborative environment where staff and students freely interact -- not least at Friday morning coffee and donut sessions.

Funding Notes

This 4-year (including CDT taught-courses) project is funded jointly by UK ATC and by the CDT in Applied Photonics, run by Heriot-Watt University. The annual stipend is £20,326, which includes an enhancement from UK ATC. A substantial consumables and equipment budget is provided by a concurrent EPSRC grant. Travel funding for conference presentations is also available.

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