Research Associate In Harnessing Photonic Technologies

Edinburgh, United Kingdom
28 Jun 2019
End of advertisement period
29 Jul 2019
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Closing date 29 Jul 2019 23:00 (UK time)
Salary £32,236–£39,609 (Grade 7)
Location Edinburgh
Department Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences
Category Research
Status Full Time
Duration 33 months fixed-term

About Heriot-Watt University        

Heriot-Watt University has five campuses: three in the UK (Edinburgh, Scottish Borders and Orkney), one in Dubai and one in Malaysia. The University offers a highly distinctive range of degree programmes in the specialist areas of science, engineering, design, business and languages.

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For full details on our University please view our Careers at Heriot-Watt http://www.hw.ac.uk/about/careers-at-heriot-watt.htm

About our Team        

Based in Heriot-Watt’s Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences, you will join the group of Dr Richard McCracken which is focused on ultrafast laser development and applications, with research areas including multiphoton microscopy, mid-infrared single-photon generation, and frequency combs for astronomy. Dr McCracken’s research is closely aligned with the activities in the Ultrafast Optics group led by Prof. Derryck Reid.

Detailed Description

The position is funded by STFC and will last for 33 months.

This project aims to develop a cavity-dumped optical parametric oscillator (OPO) for three-photon microscopy of biological systems. It also aims to demonstrate a compact sub-harmonic OPO producing pulses with variable repetition frequencies, and compare its performance to the cavity-dumped system. The project is a collaboration with Chromacity Ltd., who commercialized Heriot-Watt’s innovative ultrafast laser technology, and Scientifica Ltd, the UK’s leading manufacturer of multiphoton microscopy systems.  The successful candidate will be confident working in a laser environment, ideally with experience of picosecond/femtosecond OPOs.  S/he will ideally have an understanding of ultrafast laser development, particularly in cavity design and dispersion control, and a familiarity with fibre optics and opto-mechanics.  Experience with MATLAB or other programming environment is essential, ideally with elements of instrument control and data acquisition.  The project may involve some field work, including travelling to life-sciences laboratories in the UK and abroad.  As the project goals are realised, the candidate will be encouraged to participate in knowledge transfer to the industrial partners.

Key duties and responsibilities

The post holder is required to:

  • Develop and characterise two OPO architectures (details on request) to achieve ~500nJ pulses in the near-infrared. This will involve modelling laser cavities, designing high-reflectivity low-dispersion coatings, and constructing compact-footprint OPOs to produce ultrashort pulses, suitable for transport to end-user facilities.
  • Understand the limitations of energy scaling in OPOs.
  • Take ownership of the data capture and processing using MATLAB and instrument control software as appropriate.  Development of OPO modelling codes will be shared with the PI of the project with the aim to analyse the pulse evolution in cavity-dumped and harmonically-pumped systems.
  • Work closely with the project’s industrial partners to collaborate on system integration and development and to define and protect intellectual property arising from the work.
  • Promote the scientific dissemination of the work by leading / contributing to the preparation of journal papers and conference presentations.
  • Escalate the technology readiness level of the system to integrate all of the laser, OPO, pulse compression and software aspects into a single "proof-of-concept" technology demonstrator suitable for field trials.
  • Collect data supporting the performance and stability of the OPO architectures, forming evidence of the technical competence of the technology.
  • Assist in the commercialization of the system by gathering feedback from at least one field trial with a potential early-adopter customer.
  • Assist in the construction of a detailed business case and roadmap by using the technical results and customer feedback to allow the technology to be brought to market soon after project completion, in collaboration with our industrial partners.
  • Provide mentorship and local supervision to undergraduate or postgraduate students working on the project.
  • Participate in training activities as appropriate to the needs of the project.

Education, qualifications and experience

Essential Criteria

  • A PhD in an appropriate technical discipline, or the expectation of obtaining this by the start of the project.  Suitable candidates may come from a diverse range of backgrounds including physics, chemistry, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.
  • Expertise in one or more of the following areas: optical parametric oscillators; lasers, particularly ultrafast lasers; pulse-picking or cavity-dumping; opto-mechanical instrumentation.
  • A relevant and high-quality publication track record, including first-author publications, appropriate to your career stage.
  • Proven technical competence in experimental photonics, optical experiment / system design and the analysis of results.
  • Familiarity with MATLAB or a similar programming environment.

Desirable Criteria

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Experience of the following areas: data acquisition; opto-mechanical design; electronics; optical parametric oscillators; fibre lasers; field work; laser alignment; multi-photon microscopy.
  • An interest in progressing real-world applications of laser technology by industrial partnerships.

How To Apply

Applications can be submitted up to midnight (UK time) on 29th July 2019.

At Heriot-Watt University we understand that being diverse makes us better which is why we support a culture of respect and equal opportunity, and value diversity at the heart of what we do. We want to increase the diversity of our workplace to underpin a dynamic and creative environment.

We welcome and will consider flexible working patterns e.g. part-time working and job share options.

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