The University of Southampton

Phased array fibre lasers with machine learning

Supervisors: Prof Johan Nilsson, Dr William Kerridge-Johns

This project combines state of the art optical fibre laser amplifiers with machine learning control to produce next-generation lasers. These “smart” phased-array lasers promise to revolutionise materials processing and other important near-term and futuristic laser applications, including even starship propulsion! This modular and scalable approach offers rapid and flexible, unsurpassed, control of the beam shape and polarisation. Adding to this, computer control through neural networks and machine learning is now emerging as a means both to implement and to optimise the control offering a new range of capabilities in this rapidly developing field. 

The Smart Fibre Optics High-Power Photonics (HiPPo) programme is a £6 million EPSRC funded 5-year programme pursuing fibre-based phased-array lasers at the Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton. We are now seeking a PhD student to research advanced fibre amplifiers and beam combination concepts within this ground-breaking programme at the interface of physics and engineering. The general research area is laser physics & engineering, and specifically the building blocks and control needed for a phased-array laser. This involves fibre amplifiers with reduced noise, phase & polarisation control, as well as fibre nonlinearities and their mitigation in fibre laser systems at high intensities. The control schemes will be developed and implemented with the assistance of machine learning specialists. 

You will work in a world-leading team, measuring and optimising high-power fibre amplifiers that you design and build, e.g., with fibres fabricated in-house in ORC’s state-of-the-art cleanrooms. Throughout your PhD, you will have access to state-of-the-art laboratories at the ORC. At the end of your PhD project, you will have developed knowledge and skills in cutting-edge fibre and laser technology and advanced characterization techniques. 

This project combines many highly-active research topics – phased array combination, machine learning, programmable structured light generation, multi-kW lasers – with a wide range of impact areas both in academic research and industry. If you are seeking an industrially-relevant PhD project with experimental focus and are interested in the rich physics challenges of high-power fibre lasers and phased arrays then this opportunity is perfect for you.

Closing date. Applications are accepted throughout the year. The start date will typically be late September, but other dates are possible.


Mid-infrared laser amplifiers for tomographic imaging of chemical species in gas turbine combustion and green aviation

Supervisor: Prof Johan NilssonProf Jayanta Sahu

University of Southampton is seeking a committed candidate for laser research towards green aviation and net-zero carbon emission from gas turbines within the LITECS programme. This is funded by a £7 million EPSRC grant and involves six universities and five companies, each contributing world-leading expertise. LITECS targets transformational combustion measurement and modelling tools to enable the development of low emission engine designs and evaluation of new low emission and zero-carbon fuels, leading to reduced environmental impact. As well as aircraft, gas turbines are used to power trains, ships, and electrical generators. See and for further details about LITECS. 

Our role at University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) is to research, build, and validate fibre-based optical amplifiers for mid-infrared wavelengths and with the power levels, linewidth, stability, and reliability required for chemical species tomography of gas turbines. The successful candidate will work with lasers in the High-power fibre lasers research group in immediate collaboration with other team members as well as with team members in other organizations across the UK. Throughout the PhD, the candidate will have access to state-of-the-art laboratories at the ORC. Opportunities for working at partners are also expected. At the end of the PhD project, the student will have developed knowledge and skills in fibre and laser technology, mid-infrared lasers, and chemical species tomography. If you are seeking an industrially-relevant PhD project with experimental focus and are interested in lasers for measurements of chemical-species and zero-carbon technology then this opportunity is perfect for you. 


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