PhD Studentship: Beam-Shaping for High-Precision High-Speed Laser-Based Manufacturing

University of Southampton - The High-Precision Laser-Based Manufacturing (HLM)

Supervisor: Dr Ben Mills
Co-supervisor: Dr Dan Heath

The High-Precision Laser-Based Manufacturing (HLM) group, headed by Dr Ben Mills, is focussed on the development of novel optical processes that are enabling new paradigms in high-precision high-speed laser-machining. Through the use of a digital micromirror device (DMD), which we use as a spatial light modulator, we are able to change the spatial intensity profile and energy of every single laser pulse, for laser repetition rates up to 30 kHz. By imaging each shaped pulse onto a target sample, we are able to rapidly fabricate extremely precise structures over cm-squared regions.

Currently, the group is focussed on the development of new methods for light manipulation, such as adaptive algorithms based on field propagation, for applications for both additive and subtractive manufacturing, including the development of a subwavelength-resolution 3D laser-printer, substrates that control differentiation pathways of stem-cells for regenerative medicine, and bespoke sensors for aerospace and power generation. The laser-machining research takes place in the FAST lab, a £1.2 million femtosecond laser facility based at the Optoelectronics Research Centre. The facility is one of the most flexible laser systems of its kind in the world, offering full wavelength tunability from 235 nm (UV) to 10 μm (IR) and hence enabling unparalleled research flexibility.

A fully funded PhD place on this project is available for UK applicants. Students from overseas who have secured external funding are also welcome to apply. Students with a background in physics and an interest in nonlinear optics and lasers would be a good fit to this exciting project area. In addition to experiments, computational modelling and data-analysis will be key aspects. A visit to meet us is recommended and phone / Skype interviews are also possible if necessary.

Please contact Dr Ben Mils ( ) for further details and visit our group page: ( ) . 

The PhD programme

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 the vast majority 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 fiber laser research and will benefit from the many opportunities to interact with the wider community of PhD students across the Southampton Campus through academic, sporting and cultural events.

Key facts

Entry requirements: first or upper second-class degree or equivalent

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Duration: typically three years (full-time)

Funding: full tuition plus, for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £18,000 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.

Assessment: eight-and 16-month reports and viva voce determine progression to PhD; progression reports, viva voce and thesis examination

Start date: typically September

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