The University of Southampton

Hollow Core Fibre



Novel fabrication and applications of hollow core optical fibres

Supervisory Team: Dr Ian Davidson, Dr Natalie Wheeler, Prof Francesco Poletti

Fibre optics has transformed telecommunications and profoundly impacted industrial manufacturing, medical endoscopy and structural sensing. In many applications however, solid fibres are operating close to fundamental physical limits imposed by the glass forming their core. A transformative new technology is emerging where light is guided in air or vacuum, in a Hollow Core Fibre (HCF). HCFs have the potential to become the best optical waveguide ever produced and to bring positive impacts in many application fields.

We are looking for enthusiastic PhD students with a background in physics/engineering/material science and an interest in optics, lasers or glass science.

As part of a well-funded group and of a cohesive team, a PhD position is available to work alongside experienced researchers and explore new HCF designs. These could represent the future of data transmission and laser power delivery, and enable numerous revolutionary applications, such as laser-driven particle acceleration or ultraprecise transfer of timing signals.

The PhD project aims to fabricate novel fibres and collaborate with colleagues to use them in forward-looking datacoms/telecoms networks, high power laser machining, biomedical and mid-infrared sensing and quantum computing and communications.

In this project, you will learn fabrication techniques to produce state-of-the-art HCFs. You will become an expert in both fabrication and characterisation of HCFs, while developing a high level of understanding of fibre optics. You will work with experienced researchers, have access to a wide range of equipment and work with external partners to maximise the impact of your work.

This project is based at the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton.The ORC has led the world in optical fibre technology research for the past 50 years. With over 90 state-of-the-art laboratories and 200 researchers working in all areas of photonics, the ORC provides an outstanding interdisciplinary environment for students to grow. Its cluster of 12 photonics spin-out companies provides a natural career path for PhD graduates. 

In the first year of your PhD, a structured training programme runs alongside the research project, providing a gradual transition from taught degree to open-ended research. Students present their work at conferences worldwide, first-author papers in leading academic journals and emerge with skills at the forefront of glass and fibre optics research ( Former PhD researchers have made successful careers in universities worldwide or as industry scientists and business leaders. 

  • Entry Requirements: A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent) in physics or a related discipline. 
  • Funding: Full tuition plus, for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £20,000 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. Limited funding for international applicants may be available. Overseas students who have secured or are seeking external funding are also welcome to apply.
  • How to apply: Applications should be made online
  • 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.


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