Emeritus Professor

+44 (0)131 451 3081
Room G.04
Earl Mountbatten Building
Heriot-Watt University
Denis R. Hall

Current research concentrates on high average power planar waveguide solid state lasers, diode laser optics and laser micro material processing applications in micro-optics fabrication, electronics fabrication technologies and photonics packaging.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the IEEE, the European Physical Society, the UK Institute of Physics, the IET, and the Optical Society of America. He was Chairman of the UK Institute of Physics Quantum Electronics Group from 1990-93, and Chairman of the European Physical Society Quantum Electronics and Optics Division (1998-2000). From 1998-2007 he was Deputy Principal (Pro-Vice Chancellor) with responsibility for Research and Commercialisation at Heriot-Watt University, operating on a part-time basis in parallel with research activity as Professor of Photonics in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences.


Denis Hall graduated in Physics at the University of Manchester in1965, with MPhil in 1967 at London University for research in cell biology and received his PhD in Electrical Engineering in 1971 from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, USA, and MBA degree from Edinburgh Business School in 1996.

In 1971, he was awarded a National Academy of Sciences Fellowship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for research on space-based optical communication systems, moving later to Avco Everett Research Laboratory in Boston, where he worked on electron beam laser technology and high pulse energy modelocked lasers, laser radar and atmospheric optical propagation. In 1976 he returned to the UK to the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment working on lasers and infrared systems, before transferring to Hull University in 1979. At Hull he led the UK national project to design and construct the UK Satellite Laser Ranging Facility at Royal Greenwich Observatory at Herstmonceux. In parallel, he pursued his interest in laser device physics, developing techniques for laser excitation using transverse radiofrequency discharges to produce a range of compact sealed CO2 lasers for medical, industrial and laser radar applications.

In 1986 he was appointed Professor of Photonics at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, where his research interests continued in laser device physics and applications. His work focussed on the physics and technology of ultracompact high power (kW scale) waveguide lasers, exploiting concurrent research in RF discharge physics and planar optical waveguides to develop new laser concepts based on 2-D laser power scaling and novel planar laser resonators. Planar waveguide CO2 lasers are now successful products manufactured by major international companies for applications in industry and medicine. More recently, the planar waveguide 'thin laser' concept was extended to other gas lasers and to solid state lasers pumped by diode arrays. This work, part of a general industrial orientation involving partnership in many industry/university collaborative research projects, resulted in a series of new commercial laser devices and industrial laser-based systems. He has co-founded three successful start-up companies, producing lasers and laser systems.