Alan joined the Institute of Photonics in August 2002 as part of Dr David Burns’ solid-state laser engineering team. In 2005, he was awarded a 3-year personal research fellowship by the Royal Society of Edinburgh to develop his research on disk lasers. He was appointed as an Associate Team Leader at the Institute in 2005 and as a Research Team Leader in 2009. In 2011, he was awarded a European Research Council Starter Grant to work on Diamond Lasers, and in 2014 he was awarded a five-year Fraunhofer UK / Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair in Laser Engineering. His research centres on the science and engineering of solid-state lasers: thermal management, simplified pumping arrangements, and compact devices - particularly exploiting synthetic diamond and diode-pumping of Ti:sapphire. He assists Institute of Photonics Deputy Director Dr Jennifer Hastie with leading the Institute’s Advanced Lasers group. The Compact Laser Engineering Team, of which Alan is part, works very closely with Jennifer’s High Brightness Semiconductor Disk Lasers team. In turn, the lasers group as a whole continually collaborates with other Institute staff, in particular the Photonics Materials and Devices group led by Prof. Martin Dawson. Beyond the university, the lasers group regularly collaborates with the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics, on joint projects, joint studentships and sub-contracts.
Research highlights include the first demonstration of a CW diamond Raman laser, of a monolithic diamond Raman laser, and of direct pumping of a Ti:sapphire laser. This has been backed up by detailed work on the exploitation of novel synthetic diamond both for thermal management in lasers and the direct use of diamond as a laser gain material in Raman lasers.
Alan has been principal investigator on three EPSRC-funded research grants: on diamond Raman lasers (EP/G00014X/1), on directly diode-laser pumped Ti:sapphire lasers (EP/E036724/1, EP/T014288/1), and on fibre-laser pumped diamond Raman lasers (EP/P00041X/1). These projects have involved collaboration with Coherent Scotland, Arctos, GTAT, U. of Southampton, Thales Optronics, Element Six, SPI Lasers, and Fraunhofer CAP. Alan is also a co-investigator and management board member for the Warwick-led EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Diamond Science and Technology, and was a CoI on phase one of the National Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology, assisting the Strathclyde lead, Dr Jennifer Hastie.
Beyond the research councils, Alan has led both research and consultancy work funded by a number of UK and international companies. In 2009, Alan and his colleagues Walter Lubeigt and David Burns were awarded the Thales / Scottish Enterprise Scottish Technology Prize for laser engineering. Alan collaborated with M-Squared Lasers Ltd and the Fraunhofer Center for Applied Photonics on Innovate UK funded projects on diode-pumped Ti:sapphire lasers for biological imaging and lasers for quantum technologies, the later led for Strathclyde by Dr Jennifer Hastie. Alan has been the academic supervisor for a number of doctoral students working on industrial projects - based at the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics and at Thales Optronics Ltd. He has collaborated closely with Element Six Ltd on the laser applications of diamond for over a decade.
Alan obtained his PhD from the University of St. Andrews in 1999 for work in Dr Bruce Sinclair's group on spatial and spectral selectivity mechanisms in microchip and miniature lasers. He was then a post-doc for three years in Prof. Wilson Sibbett's group, also in St. Andrews, working on the development of compact femtosecond lasers.