Dr Iain Burns

Senior Lecturer

Chemical and Process Engineering

Personal statement

My research involves the development and application of optical techniques for the characterisation of reacting flows.  We use light sources ranging from compact diode lasers and LEDs to high-power pulsed lasers.  This experimental work is supported by data analysis and modelling to extract physically meaningful information from the measured signals.

We use these techniques to investigate the formation of soot in combustion processes.  Soot (also known as black carbon) is a significant agent of climate forcing. Experimental characterisation of well-defined laboratory flames is essential to understanding the mechanism of soot formation and thus to predict and minimise its emission from combustion processes. 


Has expertise in:

    I lead research on the development and application of custom measurement techniques for imaging reacting flows, including under harsh conditions of luminosity, turbidity and high temperature.  This includes measurement of:

    • Temperature
    • Concentration of trace gases
    • Concentration of particulates
    • Particle size

    This has obvious relevance to a wide range of industrial problems and we are keen to build new partnerships to exploit these possibilities. 


Some aspects of the mechanism of formation of smoke from the combustion of wood
Atiku Farooq, Lea-Langton Amanda, Bartle Keith, Jones Jenny, Williams Alan, Burns Iain, Humphries Gordon Samuel
Energy and Fuels Vol 31, pp. 1935-1944, (2017)
Filtration suppresses laser-induced nucleation of glycine in aqueous solutions
Javid Nadeem, Kendall Thomas, Burns Iain S., Sefcik Jan
Crystal Growth and Design Vol 16, pp. 4196−4202, (2016)
Temperature imaging in low pressure flames using diode laser two-line atomic fluorescence employing a novel indium seeding technique
Borggren Jesper, Burns Iain S., Sahlberg Anna-Lena, Aldén Marcus, Li Zhongshan
Applied Physics B: Lasers and Optics Vol 122, (2016)
Freezing properties of alkenyl succinic anhydrides derived from linear isomerised olefins
Sellars Philip B., Lue Leo, Burns Iain S., Work D. Neil
Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research Vol 55, pp. 2287–2292, (2016)
Application of continuous-wave cavity ring-down spectroscopy to laminar flames
Humphries Gordon S., Burns Iain S., Lengden Michael
IEEE Photonics Journal Vol 8, (2016)
Scaling of glycine nucleation kinetics with shear rate and glass-liquid interfacial area
Forsyth Carol, Burns Iain S., Mulheran Paul A., Sefcik Jan
Crystal Growth and Design Vol 16, pp. 136–144, (2016)

more publications


I currently teach mass transfer, vapour-liquid separations and adsorption processes to Year 3 and process measurements to final year MEng students.

I supervise research and industrial projects for full-time and distance-learning MEng and MSc students, chemical engineering design projects and undergraduate summer research projects.

I have previously lectured on process design, engineering maths, thermodynamics and chemical reactor engineering so I have broad experience of teaching the core components of the Chemical Engineering undergraduate curriculum.

Research interests

  • Laser induced fluorescence
  • Cavity ring-down spectroscopy
  • Laser induced incandescence
  • Light scattering
  • Combustion
  • Laminar flames
  • Temperature measurement
  • Trace gas detection
  • Soot and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Direct flame fuel cells
  • Crystallisation


In-situ Chemical Measurement and Imaging Diagnostics for Energy Process Engineering (Platform Grant)
Johnstone, Walter (Principal Investigator) Burns, Iain (Co-investigator) Lengden, Michael (Co-investigator) Stewart, George (Co-investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2016 - 30-Sep-2021
Doctoral Training Centre In Continuous Manufacturing And Crystallisation | Kendall, Thomas
Sefcik, Jan (Principal Investigator) Burns, Iain (Co-investigator) Kendall, Thomas (Research Co-investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2013 - 01-Oct-2017
Epsrc Doctoral Training Grant | Humphries, Gordon Samuel
Lengden, Michael (Principal Investigator) Burns, Iain (Co-investigator) Humphries, Gordon Samuel (Research Co-investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2012 - 05-Jun-2017
Doctoral Training Grant | Dunn, Jaclyn
Burns, Iain (Principal Investigator) Nordon, Alison (Co-investigator) Dunn, Jaclyn (Research Co-investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2009 - 29-Apr-2014
Burns, Iain (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Dec-2014 - 30-Nov-2017
Laser-induced nucleation for crystallisation of high-value materials in continuous manufacturing processes
Sefcik, Jan (Principal Investigator) Burns, Iain (Co-investigator)
Period 12-Mar-2014 - 11-Sep-2015

more projects


Chemical and Process Engineering
James Weir Building

Location Map

View University of Strathclyde in a larger map