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Engineering Doctorate (EngD) - Adaptive optics and aberrations correction for super-resolution microscopy (UK ATC)

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Reid
    Dr Paul Dalgarno
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

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.

The Project with the United Kingdom Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) -
The advent of fluorescence microscopy has enabled systems to reach a resolution of a few tens of nanometers in the 3 dimensions. Super-resolution is achieved by the localisation of isolated single molecules to a precision better than the diffraction limit. These methods are particular sensitive to optical aberrations who directly reduce localisation success, accuracy and precision.

Adaptive optics (AO) is a technique used to correct aberrations in optical systems. Microscopy images are distorted by aberrations – whether they are coming from the microscope itself, index of refraction mismatch or more complex aberrations coming from the biological sample itself. In fact, it is the aberrations of the sample that have made the application of AO to microscopy challenging.


The successful student will first improve on an existing end-to-end modelling tool to simulate aberrated PSFs and their correction with AO. The modelling tool will be representative of microscope, sample aberrations and reproduce current project developments. The student shall propose innovative approaches to improve image resolution – be it in sensorless optimization, phase retrieval or direct wavefront sensing.
Secondly, selected options will be investigated both in simulations and tested in the lab using a simplified microscope setup.
Finally, they will be implemented into a real-time computer and performance evaluated using biological samples.

Funding Notes

Project not available to non UK/EU applicants
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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