A New Approach for Highly Accurate Optical Interferometry Measurements in Nanotechnology – PhD Studentship

Cranfield University

Application Deadline: Ongoing until filled

Start Date: Start date flexible, possible intakes February, May and October 2017

Eligibility: UK/EU students only

Duration of award: 3 years


Dr Thomas Kissinger – Research Fellow
Professor Ralph P. Tatam – Head of Engineering Photonics


Sponsored by the Centre for Engineering Photonics, Cranfield University, this studentship will provide a bursary of £14,296 - £16,000 p.a. (tax free), depending on qualifications and experience, plus fees* for three years.

A fully funded PhD studentship is available in the area of highly accurate optical measurements for nanotechnological applications. The internationally renowned Centre for Engineering Photonics takes novel photonics based techniques and develops them into real-world applications for the benefit of society. We are a diverse, outward-facing research activity, and many of our projects involve collaboration with other academic groups, instrumentation manufacturers and end users.

The project shall explore the potential of our recently developed technique for spatially resolved interferometry for high-accuracy (sub-nm) optical distance measurements. This new approach enables the use of unconventional and very compact optical setups and therefore has the potential to benefit a wide range of high-accuracy applications in nanoscience and technology, such as surface probe microscopy or semiconductor manufacturing. One of the important challenges to be solved in this project is how to improve the calibration of the laser emission wavelength, ideally using an atomic absorption line reference to make the measurements meteorologically traceable. Most of the work will be performed in our well-equipped laboratories, while it is intended that some short performance verification experiments will be carried out in collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington.

This project will enable the student to acquire a unique skillset in the growing field of high-accuracy optical measurement for nanoscience and nanotechnological applications. The project would suit candidates with a background in the physical sciences or relevant engineering subjects. Experience in photonics would be an advantage, but an ability to learn and to apply that learning are considered equally important, as full training will be provided in photonics techniques. Additionally all students are encouraged to complete a programme of courses in transferrable skills, making them highly sought after by employers. Our students go on to successful careers in the fields of their choice, often in research or development roles in industry, government funded establishments and universities. Engineering Photonics provides a stimulating research environment, a purpose built suite of first class laboratories, close links with industry and researchers from other disciplines and funding for students to present their work at international conferences.

Entry requirements:

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline, such as engineering or the physical sciences.  An appreciation of optics or photonics would be an advantage. Some of our students complete a PhD following a period (or even a career) in industry and we welcome the additional experience that this brings.

Funding requirements:

* To be eligible for this funding, the applicant must be a UK or EU national.

How to apply:

For informal enquiries, further information and to apply please contact:

Dr Thomas Kissinger, E: t.kissinger@cranfield.ac.uk, T: (0) 1234 758204 or

Professor Ralph Tatam, E: r.p.tatam@cranfield.ac.uk T: (0) 1234 754630

If you are eligible to apply for this research studentship, please complete the online application form.

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