The University of Southampton

Mid-Infrared Silicon Photonics PhD Projects

All PhD Projects:

  • 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.


Microsampling silicon photonics for equitable medical diagnostics

Supervisor: Professor Goran Mashanovich

Co-Supervisor: Dr David J Rowe

This project aims to develop disposable silicon photonic sensors for healthcare monitoring. It will combine microsampling technology with mid-infrared sensors for simple, low-cost diagnostics. A guiding theme of the project is to improve healthcare inequalities by reducing barriers to access. 

Microsampling is the technology for obtaining very small volumes of biological fluids such as blood, saliva or urine. For example, capillary blood can be taken near painlessly by not reaching far enough into the skin to trigger pain receptors. Patients and clinical trial participants strongly prefer these methods because they are less invasive and can be used outside of clinic settings. 

The successful applicant would be able to explore different applications for this technique with our partners at University Hospital Southampton (UHS). This could be screening for substance abuse or doping violations in sport. 

You will join a larger team working on clinical and oceanic applications of silicon photonics based in the Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics (ZIPN) at the University of Southampton (UoS). This is a multidisciplinary and inclusive community that includes collaborators from Chemistry and Medicine at UoS and regular visitors from our national and international partners. 

The successful candidate will study the infrared detection of biomarkers from microsampled fluids. Your role will include designing, fabricating and testing the integration of microfluidics with mid-infrared waveguide sensors and comparing these with the current gold standard macrosampling analytical methods. 

You will be based in ZIPN, where the microsampling and photonics chips will be fabricated in state-of-the-art cleanrooms, and will conduct experiments in both UoS laser laboratories and UHS clinical laboratories.  There will be opportunity for you to work with clinicians to define how the sensors are used to maximise the medical utility and societal impact.


Silicon Photonics for methane emissions reduction

SupervisorDr Milos Nedeljkovic (ORC)

Co-SupervisorsProfessor Goran Mashanovich (ORC) and Professor Matthew Mowlem (NOC)

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas whose emissions have caused about 30% of global heating to date. At COP-26 a multinational alliance of 105 countries pledged to cut their methane emissions by 30% in the next decade, because it is thought to be the most effective way to reduce near-term global warming. One of the most important levers for doing so will be to reduce natural gas leakage from fossil fuel production infrastructure, but to achieve this new low-cost technologies for immediately detecting the leaks will be needed.

The aim of this project will be to develop photonic integrated circuits for methane sensing, operating at mid-infrared wavelengths where the gas strongly absorbs light. It will involve 1) evaluating photonic circuit architectures for different sensing scenarios, 2) designing electro-optic devices and circuits through simulation, 3) fabricating them in Southampton’s world class cleanroom, 4) experimentally measuring their performance, and 5) implementing opto-electronic signal processing for extracting data from the sensors.

We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate with a background in electronics or photonics. The applicant would join a cutting-edge research group in the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton, and work in the state-of-the-art cleanroom facilities and photonic device characterisation laboratories at the ORC. They would work in cooperation with postdoctoral researchers employed on the new £5.8 million project “MISSION” (Mid- Infrared Silicon Photonic Sensors for Healthcare and Environmental Monitoring), and with academic and industrial collaborators with interests in gas sensing.


Efficient mid-IR waveguide couplers for low noise sensors

SupervisorProfessor Goran Mashanovich (ORC)

Co-supervisors: Dr Pavel Cheben (National Research Council of Canada) and Dr Milos Nedeljkovic (ORC)

A key challenge for Silicon Photonic circuits is how to efficiently couple light between on-chip waveguides and external light sources like optical fibres or free-space laser beams. Efficient couplers are critical in any optical sensing systems where the signal to noise ratio depends on the light intensity reaching the photodetector. The mid-IR is a new frontier for integrated photonics that requires the use of new waveguide materials and geometries, and new solutions will therefore be needed for efficient light coupling. The project would involve collaboration with Professor Cheben from the National Research Council of Canada, whose group has been a leading developer of new waveguide coupling technologies based on metamaterial engineered photonic devices, which will be applied in this project. The project would involve the design, fabrication, and testing of waveguide couplers and their integration into sensing systems, making use of the Optoelectronics Research Centre’s world leading cleanroom fabrication and photonic device characterisation facilities.


Integration of mid-IR lasers with silicon and germanium waveguides

Supervisor: Professor Goran Mashanovich (ORC)

Co-supervisors: Dr Colin Mitchell (ORC) and Professor Jon Heffernan (Sheffield)

Recently there has been tremendous interest in extending photonics beyond its traditional spectral regions, such as visible light for imaging, and near-infrared ‘light’ for telecommunications. The mid-infrared region with wavelengths beyond 3 µm has great potential important application areas such as environmental sensing, homeland security and medicine. However, today performance of photonics components (such as light sources, modulators, waveguides, and detectors) operating in the mid-infrared region needs significant improvement to be of practical interest in the above-mentioned applications.

We are looking for candidates interested to investigate integration of mid-IR sources with Si and Ge waveguides. The project will involve a range of activities including the design and fabrication of photonic integrated circuits, characterisation of the fabricated devices, and building/testing of photonics systems. The project will involve close collaboration with Sheffield University where the sources will be fabricated. These sources will be integrated and characterised in Southampton.


Efficient hybrid silicon phase shifters and optical modulators 

Supervisor: Professor Goran Mashanovich (ORC)

Co-supervisors: Professor David Thomson (ORC) and Professor Brian Hayden (Chemistry)

Efficient phase shifters and optical modulators are crucial devices for communications, programmable photonic circuits and sensing applications, including LiDAR. The project will comprise of the design of silicon and germanium based phase shifters and optical modulators by incorporation of different materials with Si/Ge to improve the phase shifter/modulator efficiency. These devices will be fabricated, characterised at a range of different wavelengths, and eventually integrated in transmitters/transceivers/sensors in the state-of-the-art Zepler Institute facilities. There will be an intensive collaboration with several colleagues from the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) and Chemistry where materials such as BTO and PZT will be grown on Si/Ge, as well as from industry. 


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