The University of Southampton

Nonlinear Semiconductor Photonics - PhD Projects

Headed by Professor Anna Peacock, the Nonlinear Semiconductor Photonics Group's focus is in the development of novel semiconductor waveguide platforms; from the design and characterisation stage, through to the demonstration of practical all-optical nonlinear devices. Please find our available projects below. 

All PhD projects:

  • Entry Requirements: A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent). 
  • 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. 
  • Funding: For UK students, tuition fees and a stipend of £20,000 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. For international students, the ORC offers a small number of scholarships to outstanding applicants and students with funding are also encouraged to apply.
  • Apply online here


Semiconductor devices for nonlinear photonics and applications

Supervisor: Professor Anna Peacock

Semiconductor photonics is fast becoming one of the most active areas of research, offering optoelectronic solutions for a wide range of applications not only in telecoms, but also in medicine, imaging, spectroscopy, and sensing. Within this field, a subdivision that is gaining increased momentum is semiconductor nonlinear photonics as the materials display a number of important nonlinear effects that can be used to generate and process signals at ultrafast speeds.

This research project will follow the development of semiconductor devices fabricated both from conventional planar waveguides on-chip as well as those based on an emerging platform that incorporates semiconductor materials directly into the cores of optical fibres. In particular, the semiconductor fibre platform offers a unique possibility to seamlessly link semiconductor technologies with the silica fibre infrastructures that are used to transmit light around the globe – one of the key challenges facing the mass uptake of integrated photonic chips.

The work will have elements of: (i) waveguide design, (ii) component fabrication and optimization, as well as (iii) optical characterization and device benchmarking using both experimental and numerical tools. Typical devices to be explored include amplifiers, novel light sources, modulators and couplers.


Fiber Integrated 2D-materials

Supervisor: Professor Anna Peacock

Two dimensional (2D)-materials are currently at the forefront of an exciting wave of scientific research. Compared to bulk materials, the high confinement in the 2D plane gives rise to unique optical and electronic properties that are advantageous for wide-ranging applications. However, from a photonics perspective, interacting with very thin layers can be inefficient, so that clever techniques must be applied to enhance the light-matter interaction and achieve high quality devices.

Our group has recently developed a novel method for producing ultra-low loss side-polished fibres that make for an excellent platform on which to exploit the rich optical functionality of these materials over extended interaction lengths.

This project will focus on optimizing the fibre platform for the development of photonic devices that incorporate some of the most popular 2D materials, including graphene, black phosphorous and various semiconductors from the transition metal dichalcogenide family (MoS2 and WSe2 etc.). By exploiting the different material properties on offer, a number of robust and compact all-fibre integrated devices will be explored including high-speed modulators, wavelength convertors, lasers and detectors.

There will be opportunities to interact with our partners at the universities of Cambridge and Newcastle.


Laser-engineered silicon photonic devices

Supervisor: Professor Anna Peacock

Silicon materials are synonymous with the microelectronics industry and, in particular, the processors used in everyday gadgets such as mobile phones, tablets, digital radios and televisions. More recently, due to its favourable optical properties, silicon has gained popularity in the field of optical information technologies, i.e., using photons instead of electrons to transfer information.  Bringing these two research areas together on an integrated platform will have huge technological consequences. However, there is a challenge: silicon photonic devices are typically fabricated via complex processing of expensive single crystal wafers, which renders multi-device integration difficult. This project seeks to develop a simple, low-cost laser materials processing procedure to fabricate high quality polysilicon photonic platforms that will ease issues associated with optoelectronic integration.

The work will have elements of:

  • Materials deposition
  • Device fabrication (lithographic patterning and laser crystallization) of various components such as couplers, resonators, modulators etc.
  • Optical characterization and device benchmarking

It will also be possible to extend this work to other semiconductor materials, including silicon-germanium alloys where laser processing can be used to locally control the composition to tune device performance. There will be opportunities to interact with our academic and industrial partners. 


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