Professor Jennifer Hastie

Institute of Photonics


Personal statement

Professor Jennifer Hastie is Director of the Institute of Photonics and leads a research team with a main interest in optically-pumped semiconductor and solid-state lasers for high spatial and spectral brightness and broad tunability at novel wavelengths. 

Jennifer built her team with an EPSRC Challenging Engineering Award (EP/I022791/1), gaining an international reputation for research in the area of narrow linewidth semiconductor disk lasers (SDLs) with advanced wavelength flexibility for applications including metrology and lithography; spanning ultraviolet, visible and infrared spectral regions through the use of novel materials and intracavity nonlinear frequency conversion techniques.  A particular research highlight was the development of intracavity-pumped tunable crystalline Raman lasers, including CW diamond Raman lasers. 

As a result of the group’s work in the area of ultra-narrow linewidth lasers, Jennifer is a member of the Management Board of the UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensing and Timing (, leading the development of novel lasers for high performance optical clock systems.  The Hub, led by Prof Kai Bongs and Director Simon Bennet of the University of Birmingham, includes leading research groups from the Universities of Glasgow, Nottingham, Southampton and Sussex, and Imperial College London. This international centre of excellence is translating state-of-the-art lab technology into deployable practical devices with the academics working with >60 industry partners to translate research into marketable applications.


Biography: Jennifer joined the IoP as a PhD student in 2000.  In 2004 she was awarded a 5 year research fellowship by the Royal Academy of Engineering to develop visible and ultraviolet semiconductor disk lasers for applications in biophotonics and was Principal Investigator on two further grants funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC): for work on ultraviolet SDLs (EP/D061032/1) and on InP quantum dot SDLs (EP/E056989/1), the latter in partnership with Dr Andrey Krysa of the University of Sheffield and Prof Peter Smowton of Cardiff University.  She has also been a co-investigator on an EPSRC Engineering Platform Grant for the development of advanced solid-state laser systems (EP/E006000/1) and a grant on diamond Raman lasers (EP/E056989/1) with IoP colleague Prof Alan Kemp.  She was the Strathclyde lead investigator on the UK Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology (PI Prof Kai Bongs, University of Birmingham, EP/M013294/1), and the lead academic investigator on two Innovate projects with M Squared Lasers Ltd to translate her group’s research on ultra-narrow linewidth semiconductor lasers for quantum technology (EP/M508287/1 and IUK 102667). This has been followed by her role on the Management Board of the UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensing and Timing (EP/T001046/1), leading a research programme on essential underpinning technologies including compact locked laser systems.

Jennifer was the Programme Chair of the VECSELs conference at SPIE Photonics West in 2013 and again in 2020, and was an active member of the Technical Programme Committee of the international OSA conference Advanced Solid-State Photonics 2009-2013. She is a Senior Member of the IEEE, and in 2019 she served as a lecturer on the OSA Siegman International School on Lasers at the University of Rochester, USA.  In 2023 she was elected an Optica Fellow.

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Professional Activities

Royal Academy of Engineering Working Group for the independent review of quantum infrastructure (External organisation)
QuantERA Strategic Advisory Board (External organisation)
Monolithic sub-kHz-linewidth VECSELs for cold atoms
Development and application of sub-kHz visible VECSELs in cold-atom quantum technology
Invited speaker
Vertical External Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VECSELs) III (Journal)
EPSRC news item: Advancing laser technologies

More professional activities


UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Timing
Riis, Erling (Principal Investigator) Arnold, Aidan (Co-investigator) Griffin, Paul (Co-investigator) Hastie, Jennifer (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 30-Jan-2024
Ultra-Precision Optical Engineering With Short-Wavelength Semiconductor Disk Laser Technology (Challenging Engineering)
Hastie, Jennifer (Principal Investigator)
It has been 50 years since the first operation of the laser, yet there are still many new applications being made possible by continued innovation in laser technology. A range of exciting optical engineering techniques are currently being developed by scientists and engineers to achieve ever greater precision in sensing, manufacturing, and measurement: from the fabrication of nanometre-scale crystal structures created by laser light patterns to the probing of atomic energy levels to define the time and frequency standards used for communications and navigation. Such visible- and ultraviolet-based (short wavelength) research is very active; however, investigators are currently making do and having to become rather adept at converting current lasers with complex systems for beam shaping, amplification and frequency conversion which generally fall short of the desired wavelength, power and finesse, and confine this technology to the lab. This programme will develop a new class of simplified and tailored short wavelength laser systems in collaboration with these scientists and engineers in order to address a gap in the laser toolbox, dramatically improve capability, and bring these currently specialist techniques out of the lab to the level of widely deployed technology. The core laser technology for the optical engineering systems targeted will be semiconductor disk lasers (SDLs). SDLs are distinct from conventional high performance lasers in that the gain material is engineered on the nanometre scale. Rather than a laser crystal (millimetres long), a flow of dye, or a pressurised tube of gas, light amplification is provided by several quantum wells (QWs): ultra-thin (few nanometres thick) layers of semiconductor, positioned with nanometre-scale accuracy with respect to the light field in the laser. Aside from commercial advantages in terms of compactness, cost and wavelength flexibility, this set-up is fundamentally suited to the very high coherence, low noise laser performance required for ultra-precision optical engineering. Nearly all SDLs operate in the near- or mid-infrared regions of the spectrum; however, many more applications will open up if their full potential for visible and ultraviolet operation is realised. The unique capability in short wavelength SDLs that Dr. Hastie's team has developed over the past 5 years means that she is now in a position to push the technology to target genuine applications for wider benefit. She has identified UK and international research partners for the realisation of high finesse semiconductor laser systems in the visible and UV, together with end users at research institutions in the UK. The Challenging Engineering award will provide the platform necessary to lead this research network and address the identified challenges. Three different optical engineering systems will be targeted initially:* interference lithography - an effective, low-cost method of fabricating nanostructures over a large area and widely deployed in the fabrication of circuits in the semiconductor industry* ultraviolet spectroscopy - for measuring the concentrations of important atmospheric trace gases* optical clocks - for the improvement in time and frequency standards used for communications, satellite navigation and testing of fundamental physics. These areas are complementary in terms of the required laser engineering and performance, will achieve a step-change in capability through the application of short wavelength SDLs, and are sufficiently diverse to provide scope to actively pursue multiple promising research directions and applications, many not yet predicted.
01-Jan-2011 - 30-Jan-2016
COALESCe - TSB Quantum Tech Project with Fraunhofer CAP and M Squared Lasers.COmpAct Light Engines for Strontium Clocks
Hastie, Jennifer (Principal Investigator)
"A large number of applications, including those in research, defence, and finance require compact optical clocks that retain
their accuracy and reliability for lower costs and footprints than existing systems. Optical clocks are capable of better
stability and lower uncertainty than the current standard of time; however, each clock requires a range of lasers with
demanding requirements specific to the atomic species at the heart of the clock. Neutral strontium is one of the most
widely used atoms. It has a key transition that must be addressed using a laser source with emission wavelength at 461nm,
power 1W and linewidth (spectral purity) 32MHz. Currently researchers must use expensive or inadequate laser
sources to meet these requirements. In this project we will meet all the above requirements of neutral strontium in a low
cost, compact system based on semiconductor disk laser (SDL) technology. The advantageous properties of SDLs for
tunable, narrow linewidth operation have previously been demonstrated in the laboratory; however, their potential to
address wavelengths of interest for optical clocks, and moreover to achieve this in a compact commercial format, have yet
to be realised. We will engineer a stabilised, narrow linewidth 922nm SDL with frequency doubling to 461nm within the
cost and volume parameters required for strontium optical clock-based systems to emerge from the research laboratory
and address applications in the field."
01-Jan-2015 - 31-Jan-2016
UK Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology
Hastie, Jennifer (Principal Investigator) Arnold, Aidan (Co-investigator) Griffin, Paul (Co-investigator) Kemp, Alan (Co-investigator) Riis, Erling (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2014 - 30-Jan-2019
Diamond Raman Lasers
Kemp, Alan (Principal Investigator) Burns, David (Co-investigator) Dawson, Martin (Co-investigator) Gu, Erdan (Co-investigator) Hastie, Jennifer (Co-investigator)
The wavelength coverage of lasers is limited by the materials nature permits. This constraint is loosened by the engineering that is enabled in epitaxial semiconductors, but gaps remain between materials systems. Thus, there is a continuing requirement to efficiently convert the wavelength of lasers, moving from spectral regions where good sources exist to those where they are scarce. This project targets one such conversion process - the Raman laser - and in particular the novel use of diamond to permit power-scaling. Efficient Raman conversion - the generation of longer wavelengths due to inelastic scatting of light in a medium - is usually considered the preserve of high power pulsed lasers or systems based on long lengths of fibre. Recent work, however, has shown that this need not be so. First in hydrogen gas (Montana State University) and then in crystals (National Academy of Sciences of Belarus; Macquarie University), it has been shown that continuous-wave lasers of modest power can be wavelength-shifted via Raman scattering: the Raman medium is placed inside the laser cavity to exploit the high intensities there in. This approach is important because it expands the wavelength palette available from compact diode-pumped solid-state lasers. Such lasers are typically based on crystals doped with metal ions and the output wavelengths are limited to the finite number of potential laser transitions in such doped-crystal systems. Raman-based approaches allow, for example, the well known 1064 nm transition in Nd:YAG to be shifted into the region around 1200 nm where tissue transmission is high. Furthermore, frequency doubling of this Raman shifted laser gives access to the applications-rich, but currently source-poor, yellow-orange region of the spectrum.So far, the output power from continuous-wave intracavity Raman lasers has been limited to a few Watts. This ceiling arises from thermal problems in the Raman medium. Removal of the heat deposited in the Raman medium due to the inelastic scattering process is seriously inhibited by the low thermal conductivity of the crystals typically used. This leads to excessive thermal lensing effects that complicate scaling to higher powers. Diamond has a higher Raman gain coefficient than most Raman media and much greater thermal conductivity than all of them. However, its use as a Raman medium is usually dismissed: due to the small sample sizes available and the expense of even these small samples. In initial studies at the Institute of Photonics, we have shown that this judgement is too hasty. First, the recent commercial availability of synthetic single crystal diamond will bring down costs and improve quality. Second, our modelling indicates that the high thermal conductivity and damage threshold of diamond means that tight focussing enables the use of short - and therefore available - crystals (<2 mm). This programme will build on this platform, targeting four demonstrations in particular:1. First CW intracavity Raman laser to be based on diamond (target: 12 W at 1240 nm; 5 W in the orange (620 nm) via intracavity second harmonic generation)2. First Raman conversion of a semiconductor disk laser (target: 200 mW at 735 nm and 2 W at 1235 nm)3. First use of adaptive optics for automated beam quality optimisation in a CW Raman laser (target: 10 W, M-squared < 1.1 at 1240 nm)4. First use of diamond micro-optics to Raman convert a compact Q-switched laser (target: 40% efficiency)Achieving these results will establish a strong presence for the UK in this important emerging area of solid-state laser engineering. Furthermore, it will open the way to a range of compact sources in new spectral regions for applications as diverse as subcutaneous photodynamic therapy, underwater vision systems, and multispectral imaging.
01-Jan-2008 - 31-Jan-2012
Hastie, Jennifer (Principal Investigator) Calvez, Stephane (Co-investigator) Dawson, Martin (Co-investigator)
This project is about the development of a new material with nanoscale features that has properties that go beyond those of existing materials and will enable a number of applications that require light sources with properties that are not currently available. The applications include photodynamic therapy, which is a cancer treatment in which singlet (reactive) oxygen is generated at a specific location by using high power light with a photon energy sufficient to disassociate the oxygen molecule; DVD based optical storage, that requires dual wavelength sources to ensure backwards compatibility in new systems and which is necessary to support the semiconductor wafer manufacturing base within the UK; optical sensing, one form of which requires dual wavelength sources; and fluorescence lifetime studies, that are used, for example, for monitoring biological processes. We aim to demonstrate working devices that utilise this quantum dot material for these specific applications but also to investigate and demonstrate the basic material properties and the basic material and device physics to allow an even broader range of applications in the future. We will employ new strategies to grow material with the particular properties we require, we will characterise this material with a range of advanced experimental techniques, some of which we will develop particularly for this purpose, and will report on the properties of the material and the operation of working devices with new functionality.
01-Jan-2007 - 30-Jan-2010

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Professor Jennifer Hastie
Institute of Photonics

Tel: 548 4664