The University of Southampton

Boost your career with a PhD in high power visible lasers  

Why do a PhD at the Optoelectronics Research Centre?

  • Be part of a world leading research institute: The Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton is one of the world’s leading research institutes in laser science and photonics.
  • Boost your career: A PhD here has enabled graduates to make successful careers in academia, in national scientific laboratories, and as scientists or business leaders in industry.
  • Make new and unique discoveries: ORC researchers have made pioneering advances in high power fibre lasers and solid-state lasers that currently have widespread use in industrial applications.


What it’s like to do a PhD at the ORC


 All PhD projects:

  • Funding: For UK students, tuition fees and a stipend of £20,000 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years, with the possibility of increased funding with industry sponsorship. For international students, the ORC offers a small number of scholarships to outstanding applicants and students with funding are also encouraged to apply.
  • Entry Requirements. Applicants should have a first class or a good upper-second class degree (or the equivalent) in physics, engineering or a related discipline.
  • Closing date: Applications are accepted throughout the year and several start dates throughout the year are possible. Applications for the typical Sept./Oct. 2023 start should be received no later than 31 August 2023.
  • Further information can be obtained from Professor Andy Clarkson at the Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton (email:
  • Apply online here.


Investigation of power scaling techniques for two-micron fibre lasers and their applications

Supervisors: Prof Andy Clarkson and Dr Jacob Mackenzie

Two-micron fibre laser technology has the potential to yield a wealth of new applications in areas such as industrial laser processing, medicine, defence and optical communications. Moreover, significant power scaling advantages can be gained by moving from traditional ytterbium-doped fibre lasers operating in the one-micron band to the two-micron band. The main focus of this project will be to investigate novel approaches for scaling output power from thulium doped fibre lasers operating in the two-micron wavelength band in both continuous-wave and pulsed regimes. The research programme will study the physics of thulium doped fibre gain media to formulate new designs for double-clad active fibres that allow scaling of laser output power whilst simultaneously achieving high efficiency and good beam quality. Thulium doped glasses offer access to a wide range of wavelengths in the two-micron band, so an important aspect of the programme will be to develop lasers with flexibility in operating wavelength driven by the needs of emerging applications.  Laser architectures that are compatible with coherent beam combination to allow scaling beyond the fundamental limits of a single fibre will be a main theme. Finally, the project will explore a range of novel applications made possible by the improved laser performance.

This research will be supported by an EPSRC Studentship with the possibility of additional industrial sponsorship in the form of a CASE studentship. As such the project will involve close collaboration with one of the world’s leading fibre laser manufacturers based in the UK. 


Power scaling of fibre lasers in the visible and ultraviolet wavelength bands

Supervisors: Prof Andy Clarkson and Dr Jacob Mackenzie

This project will investigate a new approach for generating very high output power from fibre lasers in the visible and ultraviolet wavelength regime with the ambition of demonstrating levels of performance in terms of power, efficiency and wavelength flexibility that go well beyond the capabilities of the current state-of-the-art. The work is motivated mainly by the growing demands of laser-based manufacturing, and particularly additive manufacturing (3D printing), for high power laser sources in the visible band due to significantly greater absorption in important metals, such as copper. The project will explore a novel scheme for internal nonlinear frequency conversion that can be used with cladding-pumped fibre lasers.  One of the aims is to show that this scheme is compatible with kilowatt-class power generation in the green and that it offers the flexibility to address the needs for high power levels at other wavelengths in the visible band and the ultraviolet band. The improved performance will directly benefit applications in laser-based manufacturing where enhanced absorption at visible wavelengths is crucial, as well as many other applications. The project will involve a detailed study into the physics of frequency-converted fibre lasers operated at very high power levels to establish a power scaling strategy and the fundamental limits. Laser architectures that are compatible with coherent beam combination to allow scaling beyond the fundamental limits of a single fibre will also be investigated.


Hollow beam lasers and laser processing using ultrafast nanostructured optical components

Supervisors: Prof Andy Clarkson and Prof Peter Kazansky

Laser modes with a doughnut-shaped beam profile can have many unique properties, including axially-symmetric polarisation (azimuthal or radial) or orbital angular momentum. As a result, these beams have found use in a diverse range of applications from ‘laser tweezers’ to laser processing of materials. In spite of their attractive properties, generating these beams with the required purity and at high power levels is very challenging.  This project will explore novel approaches for generating hollow laser beams and other types of exotic beams directly in in fibre lasers and solid-state lasers using nanostructured optical materials. Ultrafast nanostructuring of optical materials is the technology at the heart of 5D optical memory and recent advances in ultrafast writing techniques have allowed the development of very low loss beam transforming components. This project will investigate their use in a laser resonator for the purpose of generating custom laser beams with properties tailored for a range of scientific and industrial applications. The project will study ultrafast nanostructuring of materials to fabricate novel beam transforming components together with their use for generating exotic laser beams. Particular emphasis will be directed pulsed mode of laser operation, and the generation of high peak powers and high pulse energies where there is a wealth of exciting applications. The project will then explore the potential benefits that these sources can yield in a range of different laser processing applications. 


Your PhD experience in high power visible lasers

  • Attend a training programme in the first year in parallel with carrying out your research project. This will ensure a smooth transition to the more open-ended research that takes place in the following years under the guidance of your project supervisors.
  • Present your work on a global stage at international conferences and write papers in leading academic journals as your research progresses.
  • Emerge from the PhD with unique skills at the forefront of future laser and photonics research.

 Why Southampton? 

  • Be surrounded with mind-blowing research, from optical fibres that power the internet to developing a vaccine against COVID-19. Get hands-on research experience and learn alongside the academics who are changing the world.  
  • Use amazing facilities including a £120m Cleanroom Complex with the most advanced set of capabilities of any UK university.
  • Study in a vibrant city, ranked the third best place to live and work in the UK, and just over an hour from London by train.  
  • Join a community of enthusiastic and supportive academics and students. 


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