The University of Southampton

Integrated Photonic Devices

The Integrated Photonic Devices Group, led by Professor James Wilkinson, was established in early 1990 to meet the demand for optical device functions of increasing complexity and parallelism. 

Planar photonic devices are exploited in applications as diverse as telecommunications, tuneable and short-pulse miniature laser light sources, diagnostics in medicine, the environment and food processing, and early-warning sensors for biological agents. 

We exploit surface science, waveguide engineering, laser physics and microstructure technology to realise robust mass-producible integrated optical circuits, to further the monolithic integration of diverse devices, and to develop novel materials processing for optoelectronic devices. 

Group webpage

PhD Projects:

On-chip dielectric micro/nano structures for Mid-IR and Raman Spectroscopic signal enhancement for biomarker diagnostics

Supervisor: Senthil M Ganapathy
Co-Supervisor: James  S Wilkinson 

There is a pressing need for diagnostic tools that can produce results quickly from patients' bedsides and in doctors' surgeries. Rapid, accurate results will allow rapid therapeutic decisions and save lives at reduced cost. In contrast, existing technologies require transfer of samples to centrally located laboratories equipped with sophisticated instruments, and highly skilled personnel. Both Mid-IR and Raman spectroscopies have been shown independently to be powerful biodiagnostic tool for specific biomarkers, however, combining the strengths of both these techniques on a single chip will take advantage of their complementarity in identifying disease causing biomarkers much more efficiently.

The overall aim of this project is to develop the ATR/Raman chips using advanced materials and apply the chip for proof of principle demonstration for the diagnostics of neonatal respiratory distress syndrome (nRDS). In specific the project will involve computational modelling and design of these chips including signal enhancement features using resonating structures. This will be followed by fabrication of the chips in our cleanrooms based on materials such as silicon and plastics. Fabricated devices will be first characterised at the ORC and then applied to clinical diagnostic applications including nRDS in collaboration with University Hospital Southampton.

Next generation optical sensors for environmental sensing

Supervisor: Senthil M Ganapathy
Co-Supervisor: James S Wilkinson 

Water quality monitoring and surveillance is of paramount importance to first detect the contamination and then to provide an action plan for appropriate treatment of water sources to avoid major pandemics. Similarly, continuous monitoring and detection of accidental leakage of toxic gases produced by industries, especially in developing countries, requires highly sensitive detection systems with detection limits of the order of parts per billion (PPB). This project will deal with sensors based on optical fibres that are widely deployed and used in telecommunications, which are highly robust, reliable and low-cost, and are ideal for long distance remote multi-site inspection with a single base control station. The sensing element is based on a novel optical bottle microresonator device fabricated on a continuous optical fibre in which light can circulate several million times enabling multiple interrogation with the analyte being measured, making it highly sensitive and allowing the detection of even a single molecule. The specificity and selectivity to a particular analyte will be achieved by using novel surface chemistry on the resonator surfaces exploiting electrochemistry as well as using selective supra-molecular compounds to entrap specific toxic gases.

Chalcogenide and Heavy Metal Oxide based waveguide devices for on-chip Mid-IR spectrometer

Supervisor: Senthil M Ganapathy
Co-Supervisor: James S Wilkinson 

Mid-Infrared (MIR) spectroscopy is a powerful technique for biochemical analysis in applications such as point of care diagnostics and pollution monitoring. It provides a plethora of qualitative and quantitative chemical information and can be used for label free analysis due to the inherent selectivity of the MIR spectral region. Commercially available MIR spectrometers are usually bulky and expensive. An ultra-portable and cost-effective/mass-manufacturable platform, suitable for use in low resource settings, has not been demonstrated yet.

In this project, low-cost amorphous/glass waveguide based mid-IR sources and interferometers will be fabricated to provide detection, identification and quantification of chemical and biological species from their characteristic vibrational fingerprints. We will explore radically new materials with artificially-induced functionalities at mid-IR wavelengths. Induced nonlinearity will be provided by innovative selective micropoling which we have recently demonstrated in amorphous materials, allowing electro-optic device control in cheap non-crystalline materials providing flexibility to tailor the composition at various parts of the circuit according to the device needs. In addition novel ways of fabricating chalcogenide waveguides on Silicon and thermo-optically tuned spectrometers will be of interest.

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