The University of Southampton

PhD projects

Advanced crystal-film engineering

Supervisor: Jacob Mackenzie
Co-Supervisor: Rob Eason

Novel crystalline photonic devices offer exciting opportunities for creating efficient lasers and manipulating the properties of light. Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) is an extraordinary technique using light to create new materials, not possible via normal means. PLD is an established technique, though in the ORC you will be part of the advancement in understanding and development of scalable concepts for growing single-crystal structures that will be enabling for advanced photonic applications.

This project, advanced crystal film engineering, is specifically aimed at developing new composite active-crystal structures and devices with advanced functionality. The student will learn to grow, characterise, and utilise these PLD-grown advanced materials, and would suit someone who is experimentally capable and keen to learn practical skills. Significant opportunities also exist for supporting modelling studies to augment the understanding of the complex PLD dynamics and device applications.

Due to the nature of this project, there will be opportunity for both inter-disciplinary research within the university and collaboration with external partners.

Cryogenically-cooled lasers for manufacturing

Supervisor: Dr Jacob Mackenzie
Co-Supervisor: Professor Andy Clarkson

Cryogenically-cooled lasers will be one of the platform-architectures of the future, currently being developed in large-scale-facilities institutes across the world to push the envelope in high average powers delivering laser pulses with 10’s-100’s of Joules. The main ambition of our research is to develop small-scale “turn-key” state-of-the-art solid-state lasers in the visible and UV wavelength bands with continuous-wave or highly energetic pulses, leading to new laser parameters targeting precision manufacturing.

This project will explore the physics of this novel approach for energy- and power-scaling solid-state lasers through cryogenic-cooling of the gain media. With a goal to enable the exploitation of this laser architecture in new operating regimes that will outstrip the performance of state-of-the-art room-temperature solid-state lasers.

Due to the nature of this project there will be opportunity for both inter-disciplinary research within the university and collaboration with external partners.

Power-scalable mid-infrared lasers and their applications

Supervisor: Professor Andy Clarkson

Co-supervisors: Dr Peter Shardlow and Dr Jacob Mackenzie

Lasers operating in the mid-infrared wavelength band have a wealth of applications in areas such as industrial laser processing, medicine, defence and remote sensing. Many of these applications place stringent demands on the laser in terms of power, beam quality and wavelength flexibility that cannot be achieved with current laser technologies. This project will comprise two stages. The first stage will be to investigate new strategies for scaling output power in this important spectral regime by combining the advantages of cladding-pumped thulium-doped fibre lasers with novel nonlinear frequency conversion schemes. This will involve a detailed study of effects (e.g. waste heat generation) that limit performance and identification of suitable mitigation strategies whilst maintaining high spatial coherence in the output beam and flexibility in operating wavelength. The goal will be a mid-infrared laser technology platform that out-performs the current state-of-the-art delivering high average output power in the ~2 – 5 µm wavelength regime and beyond. The second stage of the project will explore the use of the mid-infrared laser technology in laser processing of materials, and particularly organic materials, where there are strong absorption bands at particular mid-infrared wavelengths. This study will target materials that are difficult to process with conventional near-infrared high power fibre and disk lasers to establish the benefits that high power and wavelength flexible mid-infrared laser sources can bring to industrial manufacturing.

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