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High speed LED-SPAD systems for quantum technology applications in the few photon regime

This project will develop high speed communications and imaging systems operating at the single photon level for applications in inter-satellite links and microscopy.

Number of places



Home fee, Stipend


1 December 2017


30 March 2018


3.5 Years



BSc (Hons) 2:1 or equivalent degree in physics/chemistry…..


UK and EU nationals only

Project Details

At the Institute of Photonics we have been fabricating micro-LED array emitters with pixel sizes of only a few microns in diameter and that can be switched at 100’s of MHz rates. In collaboration with the University of Edinburgh we are pioneering displays (with integrated electronics) where the frame rate will reach 1Mfps, allowing information to be transmitted at Gb\s rates.   These displays enable a form of optical projection called structured illumination with applications in indoor navigation, MIMO data communications, single pixel and bio-imaging. 

The GaN displays are extremely energy efficient and can be run with ultra-low photon flux.  By coupling these displays with high speed single photon avalanche detector (SPAD) arrays, we have demonstrated a unique method for the spatio-temporal encoding of information at the few photon level that is extremely robust to noise.  Initial demonstrations of simple data transmission, with efficiencies in the order of 30 photons per bit, have already garnered significant interest from the scientific and industrial communities. 

This project will develop applications based on the spatio-temporal correlations of the coupled LED-SPAD arrays. In particular the student will develop systems to be applied in inter-satellite links over multi-km distances and for microscopy of biological samples.  The project will encompass optical systems design and realisation, electronic driver and software coding and sparse data signal processing techniques.  The PhD student will have access to state-of-the-art, custom LED and SPAD array devices, optical characterisation facilities and software tools. 

Institute of Photonics:

The Institute of Photonics (IoP), established in 1996, is a commercially-oriented research unit at the University of Strathclyde, the Times Higher Education UK University of the Year 2012/13 and UK Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2013/14.  The Institute’s key objective is to bridge the gap between academic research and industrial applications and development in the area of photonics.  The offices and laboratories of the IoP are based in Strathclyde’s Glasgow city centre campus.  We are part of the Strathclyde Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) initiative and co-located with the new Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics.  Researchers at the IoP are active in a broad range of photonics fields under the areas of Photonic Devices, Advanced Lasers and Neurophotonics, please see:

Contact us

How to apply

To enter our PhD programme applicants require an upper-second or first class BSc Honours degree, or a Masters qualification of equal or higher standard, in Physics, Engineering or a related discipline.  Full funding, covering fees and stipend, is available for UK and EU nationals only.

Applicants should send a CV to

Online Application Form