Physics PhD Studentship (Aligned to EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials): Towards Flexible Micro-endoscopy: Compressive Characterisation and Control of Light Propagation Through Multi-mode Optical Fibres

University of Exeter - Departments of Physics and Engineering

Joint supervisors: Dr David Phillips, Dr Jacopo Bertolotti

Statement of Research

Multi-mode optical fibres make excellent candidates for future micro-endoscopes: promising high-resolution imaging deep inside the body with minimal disruption to surrounding tissue due to their small (~300um diameter) footprint. However, before this can become a reality there are some significant challenges to overcome, which this project aims to address:

As light propagates through optical fibres, the spatial information is scrambled in a complicated manner, meaning that the wavefront emerging from the near end no longer forms an image of the scene at the far end. This scrambling operation must be characterised and inverted to reconstruct the image, which is a complex and time-consuming process. Current methods to characterize the scrambling through optical fibres require access to both the near and far ends. Unfortunately, the scrambling is dependent upon the precise configuration of the optical fibres – any bending, twisting, or changes in temperature alter how the light is scrambled, thus requiring its re-characterisation before image reconstruction can be achieved. This limits the use of such a system as an endoscope where only the near end of the optical fibre is accessible.

In this project we will aim to solve these challenges using a combination of cutting-edge laser beam shaping technology and new computational techniques based on the field of compressive sensing – reconstructing images from undersampled data. The project will involve laboratory-based experiments using lasers, liquid crystal displays and fast cameras. It will also involve programming these devices to work together, and designing new data analysis algorithms. This project will suit a highly motivated student who is keen to develop their experimental and programming skills (e.g. LabVIEW, Matlab, Python). The work will be undertaken as part of a larger project with researchers in Europe, and so there will be the opportunity to travel to work with collaborators on mainland Europe, and to present results at international conferences.

This project is aligned with the Exeter centre of doctoral training in metamaterials. You will join a team of ~20 PhD students on this programme, investigating novel ways to shape light and other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum to develop a wide range of innovative new technologies. Through this project you will get the chance to contribute to the development of a new kind of medical instrument – a hair thin endoscope that can see individual cells high resolution inside the body. In the future we hope these devices will help to revolutionise healthcare technologies.

International students are welcome to apply. This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £14,777 per year tax-free stipend. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend. In these cases applicants will need to provide evidence of how they will pay the international component of the fees.

This studentship is part of the Centre of Doctoral Training in Metamaterials. Please see all fully funded opportunities.

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South West England