Research opportunities at CMMPE — Prof. Tim Wilkinson

We are always seeking applications from highly motivated and skilled optical device or applications engineers along with physicists, chemists and materials scientists. Research opportunities are regularly available for visiting academics, PhD students and post-doctoral researcher. For further information and enquiries, please contact Tim Wilkinson.



Optical holography and adaptive optics

The power of a hologram to manipulate an optical wavefront has been an exciting field of research since the work of Denis Gabor. We have recently pioneered many applications of computer generated holograms from video projectors, 3D displays and photolithography. Since the availability of cheap high resolution microdisplays (now made specifically for phase modulation) it has been possible to dynamically manipulate wavefronts holographically in real time. This opens up many different applications as displays as well as adaptive optical components. We are looking for students to work in all areas of the applications of holography from displays to adaptive mode control in optical waveguides. This area spans a wide variety of applications from telecoms (fibre to fibre switches, adaptive free space optical interconnects and multimode fibre mode control/MIMO), biomedical (adaptive ophthalmic imaging and OCT) , photolithography, 3D displays, through to aberration correction and reconstruction in adaptive optical systems.

Liquid crystal phase modulation

We are always looking to push back the boundaries withliquid crystal structures in both speed and electro-optic effects. Many of the applications we are currently researching could benefit from new, enhanced, specialised liquid crystal (or some other type) effects. This is especially the case for pure phase modulation where it is almost impossible to perform multi-level phase modulation reliably at frame rates in excess of 1kHz. There are a whloe range of activities from blue phase materials to distorted helix ferroelectrics that are part of our quest for fast efficient phase modulation. This includes both glass and silicon backplane devices and covers the wavelength range from ultraviolet through to the longwave infrared.

Novel liquid crystal devices

We are always trying to find new device structures both for applications such as holography as well as test structures for new electro-optical effects. Simple example might include in-plane electric field structures right through to hybrid liquid crystal/silicon devices such as liquid crystal over silicon (LCOS). CMMPE has access to 2 large bays in the CAPE class 1000/100 cleanroom facility and also to a huge range of different processing options from deep reactive ion etching to double sided lithography. Research into new devices includes both the fabrication as well as the testing and characterisation of such structures


Nanophotonics and metamaterials

Hybrid technologies offer a great potential to expand the horizons of current optical systems. The combination of optically anisotropic materials such as liquid crystals with unusual conductors and morphologies such as arrays of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes and nanopillars have great potential as new nanophotonic devices. We have already demonstrated reconfurable graded index lens arrays with pitches from 1-100um using this technology, but we are only just beginning to understand both their operation and applications. When the length scales and separations get below the wavlength of the light, there are also the exciting possibilies created by plasmonic resonance and metamaterial effects which can be harnessed in the optical regime. There are may different research themes in this area from basic materials studies, through to advanced theory and applications whicb are all currently active in this area.

The ability to control light on the nanometre length scales is a very exciting new area which can be expoited in many different applications from optical filters in hyperspectral imaging to novel sensing systems. Arrays of nanometre scale structures (often referred to as metasurfaces) allow us to harness interesting physical phenomena such a surface plasmonic resonances opening up a whole new toolbox of techniques which allows the control of light in terms of its intensity, phase, wavelength and polarisation. This combined with optical diffraction is creating a whole new class of optical devices.

Optical correlators and comparators

Over the last few years, we have developed both sophisticated correlator systems as well as cheap and cheerful optical images processors (all at the speed of light!!). We are looking for new students who are interested in combining both the power of optics with the efficiency of image processing techniques in new optical pattern recognition systems. New applications such as image searching, head tracking and surface tracking are all being implemented with this technology.

Holographic modal control