Postgraduate research opportunities

Quantum Enhanced Imaging with Micro-LED Ultrafast Electronic Visual Display Technology

Micro-LED technology offers high-resolution displays with an unprecedented nanosecond time response. In this project, we will develop sophisticated pattern-projection systems based on custom micro-LED displays and explore their applications in quantum-enhanced imaging using single-photon detection.

Number of places



Home fee, Stipend


9 December 2020


31 May 2021


42 months


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.

UKRI Studentship Eligibility

The eligibility criteria for UKRI funding has changed for studentships commencing in the 2021/22 academic year. Now, all home and international students are eligible to apply for UKRI funding which will cover the full stipend and tuition fees at the home rate (not the international rate). Under the new criteria, UKRI have stipulated a maximum percentage of international students that can be recruited each year against individual training grants. This will be managed at the institutional level for all EPSRC DTP and ICASE grants. For EPSRC CDT grants, this will be managed by the individual CDT administrative/management team. For ESRC and AHRC studentships the final funding decision will be made by the respective grant holder.


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.


The residency requirements are based on the Education (Fees and Awards) (England) Regulations 2007 and subsequent amendments. Normally to be eligible for a full award a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship (with some further constraint regarding residence for education).

If a student does not meet the criteria above, they will be classed as an international student. The international portion of the tuition fee cannot be funded by the UKRI grant and must be covered from other sources. International students are permitted to self-fund the difference between the home and international fee rates.

Project Details

Micro-LED is a revolutionary form of electronic visual display technology, which is semiconductor-based and utilises very high densities of micron-sized LED pixels. Advanced commercial micro-LED demonstrators in the public domain include Samsung’s ‘The Wall™’ and Sony’s ‘Crystal LED™’ TVs and virtual and augmented reality headsets being developed by such as Facebook and Microsoft.

The University of Strathclyde’s Institute of Photonics is a recognised international pioneer of this technology, which it has developed over the past 20 years. These devices have proven capabilities in application areas well beyond simple display functionality, including biophotonics, wireless optical communications networks, and quantum-level imaging. The attraction of this technology is underpinned by direct interfacing to CMOS electronics, operation at very high (Megahertz) frame rates, and data transmission at gigabits/second. The emission wavelength and high-speed modulation characteristics of these micro-LEDs make them an ideal source for systems demonstrations with silicon single photon avalanche diodes (SPADs), which can detect single photons with sub-nanosecond timing accuracy and can be fabricated into single photon sensitive image sensors.

Here, as part of the ‘Quantic’ UK Quantum Technology Hub in Quantum Imaging - a multi-million-pound, 5-year research programme – and the International Graduate School for Quantum Technologies, we will advance our work on micro-LED displays with SPADs for 3D imaging, multi-spectral imaging, and low light level communications operating at a few photons per bit. This project will transform our proof-of-concept demonstrations into a hitherto unexplored regime of high pixel count and MHz update rates. The research is based on a new generation of in-house-fabricated 128×128 micro-LED arrays, which are currently being developed at the Institute of Photonics in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, and which present a host of new research challenges and opportunities. In order to operate these large arrays in the millions of frames per second regime, it is necessary to accurately control the timing of more than 70 parallel digital control signals with nanosecond precision.

The successful applicant will combine advanced research in photonics with underpinning electronic control. He/she will help to develop optoelectronic control interfaces, investigate their effect in different device configurations (e.g. LED emission wavelength from deep ultra-violet to green), and link them to demands from specific applications in quantum science and technology, in particular those linked to the National Quantum Hub on Quantum Enhanced Imaging. They will integrate these LED arrays into prototype systems for high frame-rate imaging with single photon sensitivity, and new digital systems that merge sensing and communications functions. The project will encompass optical systems design and development, electronic driver and software coding, and sparse data signal processing techniques, all of which are skills in high demand both in academic research and in industrial R&D. The PhD student, advantageously having a background in either physics or electronic engineering, will have access to state-of-the-art, custom LED and SPAD array devices, optical characterisation facilities and software tools, and will supported by, and engaged in, the UK’s National Programme on Quantum Technologies. 

 Institute of Photonics:

The Institute of Photonics (IoP), part of the Department of Physics, is an internationally recognised centre of research excellence at the University of Strathclyde - the Times Higher Education UK University of the Year 2012/13 and 2019/20, and UK Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2013/14. Strathclyde Physics is a member of SUPA, the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance and the studentship is part of the International Graduate School for Quantum Technologies.

 The Institute’s key objective is to perform use-inspired basic research in photonics for both scientific and industrial application. The IoP is located in the £100M Technology and Innovation Centre on Strathclyde’s Glasgow city centre campus, where it is co-located with the UK’s first Fraunhofer Research Centre, these units comprising over 100 research staff and postgraduate students.  Researchers at the IoP are prominent in a broad range of photonics fields in the areas of Photonic Devices, Advanced Lasers and Neurophotonics, please the website for further information.

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