PhD Studentship: Quasi-phase-matched (QPM) materials for active sensing in the infrared waveband

University of Southampton

Supervisors:    Prof Peter Smith and Dr Corin Gawith

The University of Southampton and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) ( are pleased to announce a 2017 collaborative PhD CASE studentship on the development of next-generation nonlinear optical materials to enable new laser systems for remote sensing applications, such as imaging through obscurants (dust, clouds, etc) and stand-off chemical detection.

Commercially available nonlinear optical crystals are used in a number of defence and civilian applications to access mid-infrared wavelengths that would otherwise not be available from standard laser systems. In this project the student will learn to fabricate novel nonlinear materials needed to access the far-infrared spectrum where chemical fingerprinting can be performed. The student will also learn to design and build laser systems for upconversion detection, a technique used to convert invisible radition to visible, detectable wavelengths and enable imaging in difficult conditions.

This PhD CASE studentship will suit candidates wishing to work with UK defence on a very applied basis. Collaborating with DSTL engineers, the student will develop new manufacturing processes and operating schemes for nonlinear optical materials in order to improve scientific understanding and develop new laser systems for remote sensing applications. This project will be hosted at the University of Southampton and will include on-site training at DSTL’s Porton Down facility in Salisbury (just 30 miles from Southampton).

With a background in physics, electronics, material science, or engineering, successful candidates will be enthusiastic to work in a multi-disciplinary team with collaborators in both academia and industry across the UK and worldwide. Project activities will include cleanroom fabrication, ultra-precision machining, optical design, laser testing, theoretical and computational modelling.

Please contact Dr Corin Gawith ( for further details.

The ORC PhD comprises a solid education for a research career. The structured first year involves attending our training programme running in parallel with carrying out your research project. This provides a smooth transition from your degree course towards the more open-ended research that takes place in the following years under the guidance of your project supervisors. We expect most of our students to present their work at international conferences and to write papers in leading academic journals as their research progresses. Students will emerge from the PhD with skills at the forefront of future photonics research and will benefit from the many opportunities to interact with the wider community of PhD students across the Southampton Campus.

The ORC is the leading photonics research institute in the UK and possibly in Europe. It comprises state-of-the-art cleanrooms for optical fibre, planar photonics, silicon and bio-photonics fabrication and over 80 laboratories. A PhD at the ORC has enabled our graduates to build successful careers in academia, national scientific laboratories, and as scientists or business leaders in industry. Our research papers, patents, spin-out companies and successful alumni place Southampton amongst the top institutes in the world.

Entry requirements: First or upper second-class degree or equivalent; also standard EPSRC eligibility requirements as published at 

Closing date: Applications should be received no later than 31 August 2017

Duration: 4 years (full-time)

Funding: Full tuition, plus for UK-eligible students an enhanced yearly stipend of £20,000 tax-free for up to 4 years

Start date: October 2017

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