Postgraduate research opportunities Novel laser sources in the mid-infrared spectral region for security and sensing applications


Key facts

  • Opens: Thursday 25 January 2024
  • Deadline: Sunday 30 June 2024
  • Number of places: 1
  • Duration: 48 months
  • Funding: Home fee, Stipend


This project will address the urgent requirement for new photonics tools in the mid-infrared (mid-IR) spectral region to police stricter greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards and to progress imaging capabilities in poor visibility for security applications.
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As a minimum we require candidates to have a First-Class or 2:1 MPhys or MEng degree or an MSc with merit (over 60%) in a relevant area.  Applicants who have a First-Class BSc/BEng (Hons) and can demonstrate significant relevant industry/research experience may also be considered.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Project Details

The majority of the so-called “fingerprint” absorption bands for green house gasses (GHGs) are in the mid-IR spectral region. This is also the region where some windows of high atmospheric transmittance exist, making it suitable for laser radar (LIDAR) operation in poor visibility.

Still, this application-rich spectral region poses significant challenges for laser engineers. In this project, this gap will be closed by developing new lasers that directly access the 3-5 mm region for applications in sensing (differential LIDAR – DIAL), and security (range finders in poor visibility).

This challenging project will involve the whole technological process of developing the new laser sources:

  1. New methods of growth of low-phonon energy laser crystals. As part of their EngD, the student will carry out a short-term (3-6 months) research project at the University of Warwick on mid-IR laser crystals growth under the supervision of Prof. Geetha Balakrishnan.
  2. Development of high-peak power narrow-linewidth laser sources in mid-IR spectral region. Mode-locked and Q- switched laser sources will be developed oscillating at 3-5 mm spectral region with subsequent frequency down-conversion to 8-10 mm.
  3. Feasibility tests of developed laser sources for imaging in poor visibility and DIAL sensing of GHGs. The systems based on developed laser sources will be tested for stand-off sensing of air pollution and imaging and poor visibility. The student will carry out the development of LIDAR system at the Caledonian Photonics Ltd premises (3-6 months project). Caledonian Photonics Ltd have long-established expertise in development and practical application of LIDAR systems for security and defence.

The EngD student will work in the Technology and Innovation Centre, Glasgow, where both the academic (Institute of Photonics, University of Strathclyde) and the industrial partners (Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics) have research laboratories. Laser development will be carried out in close collaboration with the second industrial partner of the project. Some work on laser crystal synthesis will be done at the University of Warwick under the supervision of Prof. Geetha Balakrishnan.

Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics (Fh-CAP): Fraunhofer CAP develops lasers and optical systems for applications including energy, security, environment, sensing, space, life sciences and quantum technologies. The core competencies at Fraunhofer CAP extend from applied research and development through to design, testing and characterisation of systems and modules as well as building pre-production prototypes. Our principal aim is to perform industry driven research to enable new or improved products and processes for industrial partners. Photonics and optical technologies are enabling technologies which address a wide range of markets. 

Institute of Photonics: The Institute of Photonics (IoP), part of the Department of Physics, is a centre of excellence in applications-oriented research at the University of Strathclyde.  The Institute’s key objective is to bridge the gap between academic research and industrial applications and development in the area of photonics. The IoP is located in the £100M Technology and Innovation Centre on Strathclyde’s Glasgow city centre campus, at the heart of Glasgow’s Innovation District, where it is co-located with the UK’s first Fraunhofer Research Centre. Researchers at the IoP are active in a broad range of photonics fields under the areas of Photonic Devices, Advanced Lasers and Neurophotonics.

Strathclyde Physics is a member of SUPA, the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance.

The University of Strathclyde has, in recent years, been the recipient of the following awards: The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education (2019 & 2021); The Times and The Sunday Times Scottish University of the Year (2020), Times Higher Education University of the Year 2012 & 2019.

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Funding details

The funding covers the full stipend and tuition fees at the home rate (not the international rate). To be classed as a home student, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter.


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Primary supervisor: Dr Vasili Savitski (Industrial Supervisor - Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics)

Additional supervisor: Professor Alan Kemp (Academic Supervisor)

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Applicants should send an up-to-date CV to in the first instance.

Number of places: 1

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Contact us

For further details, contact