Dr Ian Watson

Research Team Leader

Institute of Photonics


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Advanced transfer printing with in-situ optical monitoring for the integration of micron-scale devices
Guilhabert Benoit, Bommer Sean P, Wessling Nils K, Jevtics Dimitars, Smith Jack A, Xia Zhongyi, Ghosh Saptarsi, Kappers Menno, Watson Ian M, Oliver Rachel A, Dawson Martin D, Strain Michael J
IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics Vol 29, pp. 1-11 (2023)
Automated alignment in mask-free photolithography enabled by micro-LED arrays
Stonehouse M, Blanchard A, Guilhabert B, Zhang Y, Gu E, Watson I M, Herrnsdorf J, Dawson M D
Electronics Letters Vol 57, pp. 721-723 (2021)
Method for inferring the mechanical strain of GaN-on-Si epitaxial layers using optical profilometry and finite element analysis
Spiridon B F, Toon M, Hinz A, Ghosh S, Fairclough S M, Guilhabert B J E, Strain M J, Watson I M, Dawson M D, Wallis D J, Oliver R A
Optical Materials Express Vol 11, pp. 1643-1655 (2021)
Suspension and transfer printing of ZnCdMgSe membranes from an InP substrate
Chappell George A, Guilhabert Benoit, Garcia Thor, Zhao Kuaile, Watson Ian M, Dawson Martin D, Tamargo Maria C, Hastie Jennifer E
Optical Materials Express Vol 10, pp. 3328-3341 (2020)
Progress towards transfer printing of II-VI and III-V DBR-free VECSELs
Chappell George, Guilhabert Benoit Jack Eloi, Watson Ian, Dawson Martin, Tamargo Maria, Hastie Jennifer
SPIE Photonics West 2020 (2020)
Microscale automated alignment and spatial tracking through structured illumination
Stonehouse Mark, Blanchard Alex, Guilhabert Benoit, Watson Ian M, Gu Erdan, Herrnsdorf Johannes, Dawson Martin D
2019 IEEE Photonics Conference (IPC) IEEE Photonics Conference 2019 (2019)

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Research Interests

My research centres on the materials science, microfabrication and device applications of wide bandgap materials from the gallium nitride (GaN) materials family. In current projects, these materials are principally utilised in the form of micro-pixellated light-emitting diode (LED) arrays, frequently employed to provide structured illumination fields with sophisticated spatial and temporal control. These devices have great potential in application areas such as visible light communications, object location and motion control, and materials processing. Hybrid assembly methods for GaN devices involving advanced transfer printing techniques increasingly underpin this area of research. My earlier projects at Strathclyde involving significant GaN process development included fabrication of macro-scale LEDs featuring photonic quasi-crystal patterns, planar microcavity structures, and air-gap Bragg mirrors. The latter two topics depended critically on the use of sacrificial layers comprised of aluminium indium nitride, for which I developed a novel and patented wet etch technique. Up to 2009 I was also active in the growth of nitride semiconductor layers by metal organic chemical vapour phase epitaxy (MOVPE). Research outputs with international collaborators using samples grown in that period continue, and during 2013 I published an invited article on nitride semiconductor MOVPE for Coordination Chemistry Reviews. A recent research interest developing with IoP colleagues concerns synthesis of luminescent halide perovskite nanoparticles, which was the subject of a fuitful MSc project in 2017.

In addition to my personal research at Strathclyde, I manage the Institute of Photonics microfabrication cleanroom facility in the Technology and Innovation Centre. This facility offers multi-user access to a wide range of tools for lithography, metal and dielectric deposition, wet and dry etching, and microelectronic assembly.

My research experience before joining Strathclyde in 1998 had a strong emphasis on MOVPE and related techniques. I worked on a diverse range of thin film materials, including gallium arsenide for space solar cell applications at EEV Ltd, II-VI compound semiconductors at Imperial College London, and oxide superconductors from the yttrium barium copper oxide family at CambridgeUniversity. I published an invited review of MOVPE of the latter class of materials in 1997, and have over 170 refereed publications in total. I am a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, with CChem status, and the Institute of Physics.

Professional Activities

Hyperspectral Single Pixel Imaging with GaN μ-LED arrays for microscale positioning of fluorescent markers
Progress towards transfer printing of II-VI and III-V DBR-free VECSELs
International proposal review
Foundation for Polish Science (External organisation)
PhD examiner
Invited talk P.1.2 'III-nitride micro-LEDs for visible light communication at multi-Gb/s rates'

More professional activities


A hybrid precision manufacturing platform for next-generation of nanoscale products
Luo, Xichun (Principal Investigator) Watson, Ian (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2021 - 30-Jan-2025
'Hetero-print': A holistic approach to transfer-printing for heterogeneous integration in manufacturing
Dawson, Martin (Principal Investigator) Martin, Robert (Co-investigator) Strain, Michael (Co-investigator) Watson, Ian (Co-investigator) Guilhabert, Benoit Jack Eloi (Research Co-investigator)
'Hetero-Print': A Holistic approach to transfer-printing for heterogeneous integration in manufacturing
01-Jan-2018 - 31-Jan-2024
Light-controlled manufacturing of semiconductor structures: a platform for next generation processing of photonic devices
Martin, Robert (Principal Investigator) Dawson, Martin (Co-investigator) Edwards, Paul (Co-investigator) Skabara, Peter (Co-investigator) Watson, Ian (Co-investigator)
"This Platform Grant (PG) will apply our internationally-leading expertise in structured illumination and hybrid inorganic/organic semiconductor optoelectronic devices to create new opportunities in the rapidly developing field of light-controlled manufacturing. Structured illumination fields can in principle be obtained from both inorganic (GaN) and organic LEDs, implemented on a macroscale via relay optics, or demagnified to a microscale. Novel manufacturing with photopolymerisable materials can firstly involve use of structured illumination as a novel means to control motorised stages. This technique can be combined with pattern-programmable UV excitation for mask-free photolithographic patterning, continuous photo-curing over larger fields, localised photochemical deposition, or other forms of photo-labile assembly. Process variants can also be envisaged in which arbitrarily positioned fluorescent objects or markers are 'hunted', and then subject to beam excitation for photocuring or targeted photoexcitation. This method could be used, for example, to immobilise individual colloidal quantum dots for use as emitters in quantum technology applications. Multifunctional devices with sensing ability, such as organic lasers for explosives detection, represent another excellent example of automated devices operating under remote conditions. Further examples of the envisaged uses of this technology include:

[1] LED microdisplay asset tags for management of high-value objects (artworks, nuclear fuel containers).
[2] Passive asset tags containing unique micro-patterns of fluorescent objects (eg. colloidal quantum dots, organic macromolecules) for higher-volume, anti-counterfeiting applications.
[3] Customisable continuous-flow micro-reactors for fine chemical manufacturing.
[4] Energy harvesting micro-modules to power other autonomous microsystems, where we will focus on organic PV and ambient-radiation (RF) approaches."
01-Jan-2017 - 31-Jan-2022
UK Quantum Technology Hub in Quantum Enhanced Imaging (Quantic) / R140296-103
Dawson, Martin (Principal Investigator) Gu, Erdan (Co-investigator) Strain, Michael (Co-investigator) Watson, Ian (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2016 - 31-Jan-2017
FlexiLEDs with printed graphen based thermal management
Dawson, Martin (Principal Investigator) Laurand, Nicolas (Co-investigator) Watson, Ian (Co-investigator)
Extremely small flakes of Graphene have been made into printing inks which can pattern thin plastic sheets as well as paper. The flakes are derived in an industrial process from high quality graphite particles in a process known as exfoliation. After the printing process the graphene flakes are organised in a loose arrangement and the contact area between graphene flakes is small. We are developing a conversion process to compress selected areas of the printed graphene regions to enhance heat transfer properties and at the same time make it more efficient when transferring electrical current for integrated electronic and optoelectronic components. Our first demonstration will be flexible sheets of micro LEDs and will lead to completely new and novel formats of solid state lighting and indicator devices. Further development may allow everyday packages to be smart and able to capture data which becomes incorporated in to the internet of things. Other applications would be wearable displays, point of care diagnostic strips, touch devices for light weight vehicles as examples.
01-Jan-2016 - 30-Jan-2017
UK Quantum Technology Hub: NQIT - Networked Quantum Information Technologies
Dawson, Martin (Principal Investigator) Gu, Erdan (Co-investigator) Strain, Michael (Co-investigator) Watson, Ian (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2014 - 30-Jan-2019

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Dr Ian Watson
Research Team Leader
Institute of Photonics

Email: i.m.watson@strath.ac.uk
Tel: 548 4597