medical camera

October 2019: Prof. Alessandro Fedrizzi- Quantum observers may be entitled to their own facts

Scientists at Heriot-Watt University have now shown that, in the quantum world, facts may depend on who observes them. Read more...

June 2019: Dr. Michael Hartmann- Neural Network Approach to Dissipative Quantum Many-Body Dynamics

A scientist from Heriot-Watt University has presented an approach to the effective simulation of the dynamics of open quantum many-body systems based on machine-learning techniques, in collaboration with Center for Computational Quantum Physics. Read more...

Featured on Physics 

April 2019: Dr. Fabio Biancalana - Black hole temperature can be quickly calculated with new formula

Scientists from Heriot-Watt University have developed a new formula to calculate Hawking radiation temperature from any black hole quickly and precisely. Read more...

Featured on BBC 

March 2019: Prof. Duncan Hand - Welding breakthrough could transform manufacturing

Scientists from Heriot-Watt University have welded glass and metal together using an ultrafast laser system, in a breakthrough for the manufacturing industry. Read more...

Featured on EPSRC 

November 2018: Prof. Robert Thomson - Ultrafast camera captures light transport in an artificial crystal

Researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh have created a new type of crystal that can control how light spreads and reveal how it can be manipulated.  Read more...

October 2018: Prof. Derryck Reid - Laser technique can identify suspicious white powders

Scientists at Heriot-Watt University have proved the concept that white powders have a unique ‘fingerprint’ that allows them to be identified instantly, using portable laser technology. Read more...

Featured also in BBC

September 2018 : Dr. Donald Ross - Awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship to commercialise quantum communications

‘Satellite to ground receiver’ technology currently in development at Heriot-Watt University has the potential to open up the use of encrypted quantum communication space. Read more...

July 2018 : Dr. Mehul Malik - New study could hold key to hack-proof systems

A team of scientists  reveal a more advanced and noise-robust way to measure the entanglement of high-dimensional quantum systems. They have developed a new technique that could result in hack-proof systems. Read more ...

October 2017: Dr Marcello Ferrera - Beating the electronic speed limit with light

The heart of any smartphone, tablet or computer is an electronic chip. And that's the problem.

If you can imagine a single chip containing thousands of transistors the size of bacteria, that's what they were like in the 1970s. These days some chips contain billions of tiny semiconductor switches.

Over the decades, these chips have been getting faster and faster. But a speed limit is looming.

The electrons rushing through the copper connections can't go much quicker because they start clumping together instead of flowing freely.

If we want our devices to go even faster, we'll have to drop electrons in favour of photons. In other words, light.  Read more at 

June 2017: Dr Michael Hartmann - Hartmann paper enters the top 5 papers in Quantum Mechanics in the last 10 years

Congratulations to Dr. Michael Hartmann, whose 2006 paper, "Strongly interacting polaritons in coupled arrays of cavities" (Hartmann et al., Nature Physics 2, 849 (2006)) has entered the top 5 of the most cited papers over a 10 year period from the category Quantum Mechanics, with over 730 citations on Google Scholar.

June 2017: Professor Gerald Buller - A Light Approach to Cybercrime Prevention

Heriot-Watt, NICT, and NTT researchers demonstrate record breaking transmission distance for quantum digital signatures using installed optical fibre in a metropolitan network.

We take it for granted that the messages and emails we send are not tampered with. But just as a hand-written signature on a document gives some confidence that the document is genuine, digital messages also need to be signed to guarantee that they haven’t been forged or tampered with. 

Schemes for digitally signing messages exist, and are now so widely used that the European Union has granted digital signatures the same legal standing as their handwritten counterparts.  However, the security of the signing methods we commonly use is only computational. This means that it relies on the difficulty of performing certain calculations, such as factoring large numbers. That is, signed messages can be forged with enough computational effort, and there is no guarantee that this will not happen. If better algorithms for these calculations are discovered, then the security of the signature schemes we use is no longer guaranteed.

Quantum digital signatures offer a potential alternative which guarantee security not through computational complexity but instead through the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics.  Previous demonstrations of quantum digital signatures have operated over relatively short lengths of optical fibre in controlled laboratory environments, severely limiting the prospect of practical applications.

A collaboration between researchers at Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh, UK), The National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (Koganei, Tokyo, Japan), and The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (Atsugi, Kanagawa, Japan) has successfully demonstrated transmission of quantum digital signatures over an optical fibre attenuation equivalent to 134 km  – the longest transmission distance to date.  The demonstration, which employed a combination of a fixed length of 90 km of installed optical fibre in the Tokyo metropolitan optical fibre network and controlled attenuation to simulate additional fibre lengths, used a prototype commercial system to carry out the transmission of the signatures – highlighting the commercial potential of this approach.

It is hoped that this demonstration will lead to future deployment of quantum digital signatures within the UK Quantum Network as part of the UK Quantum Technology Hub for Quantum Communications Technologies.

For more details: Robert J. Collins, Ryan Amiri, Mikio Fujiwara, Toshimori Honjo, Kaoru Shimizu, Kiyoshi Tamaki, Masahiro Takeoka, Masahide Sasaki, Erika Andersson, and Gerald S. Buller, “Experimental demonstration of quantum digital signatures over 43 dB channel loss using differential phase shift quantum key distribution”, Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 3235 (2017) DOI:10.1038/s41598‑017-03401-9

May 2017: IPAQS Annual Symposium

On 12th May the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences (IPAQS) held its second Annual Symposium.  The event was very well attended with Professor Derryck Reid, Head of Institute, welcoming around 100 guests to the Post Graduate Centre Cairn auditorium.

The symposium included talks from a number of prominent speakers. The morning session started with a keynote by Professor Christine Silberhorn, from the Department of Physics, Paderborn University, Germany.  Professor Silberhorn’s talk was entitled ‘Quantum optics and information science in multi-dimensional photonics networks’. 

This was followed by two talks showcasing research highlights from within the Institute:

  • Dr Alessandro Fedrizzi – ‘Spooky action in action: quantum technology with entangled photons
  • Dr Cristian Bonato – ‘A smart quantum sensor based on a single spin’

The afternoon session kicked off with the second keynote, given by Professor Nikolay Zheludev, Deputy Director, Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton, entitled ‘Everything you always wanted to know about the future of metamaterials, but were afraid to ask’.

This was followed by our third guest speaker, Professor Donna Strickland who joined us from Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Waterloo, entitled ‘Multi-frequency raman generation for intense ultrashort pulses

This was followed by a further two talks showcasing selected 2016 research highlights from IPAQS:

  • Professor Daniele Faccio – ‘What can you do with a camera that images at a trillion frames per second’
  • Dr Richard McCracken – ‘Laser frequency combs for astronomy'

We welcomed Professor John Underhill, Chair of Exploration Geoscience & Chief Scientist at Heriot-Watt University to provide the closing address.

Professor Derryck Reid would like to thank everyone who attended and help support this year's event.

May 2017: Professor Duncan Hand - Heriot-Watt receives £1.3million to make medical devices smaller, smarter and cheaper

Engineers and scientists from across Heriot-Watt University have been awarded £1.3 million to tackle one of the biggest problems facing the medical profession: making advanced medical devices smaller, smarter and cheaper than current versions.   

Optical, mechanical, electronic and manufacturing engineering and science experts from across the university will form the new Medical Device Manufacturing Group, led by Professor Duncan Hand, who also leads the five-university EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Laser-based Production Processes. Read more...

February 2017: Professor Derryck Reid and Professor Daniele Faccio elected as Fellows of the RSE

A big congratulations to Derryck and Daniele who were this month elected as Fellows for the RSE.

They are among 60 distinguished individuals who have been elected to become Fellows of the RSE. Hailing from sectors that range from the arts, business, science and technology and academia, they join the current RSE Fellowship whose varied expertise supports the advancement of learning and useful knowledge in Scottish public life. 

February 2017: Dr Alessandro Fedrizzi - Heriot-Watt helps Route Monkey take quantum leap

Professor David Corne from the School of Mathematical and Computing Sciences, and Dr Alessandro Fedrizzi, from the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, have been working with Livingston-based company Route Monkey to create innovative algorithms for the company’s transport and travel systems.

The team has now launched a project with NQIT to develop, test and commercialise quantum algorithms.

Quantum computers use the fundamental laws of nature to solve certain tasks faster than classical computers. In this collaboration with Route Monkey, we’re developing quantum-enhanced software for real-world applications.

Dr Alessandro Fedrizzi, Heriot-Watt University

Route Monkey’s optimisation solutions eliminate unnecessary mileage and improve vehicle utilisation, typically helping to reduce fleet costs by up to 20 per cent and substantially cutting carbon emissions. The algorithms are capable of making millions of calculations in a relatively short space of time, vastly improving on manual transport planning. Read more...

February 2017: Professor Robert Thomson - Colours of light revealed in time-stretch breakthrough 

Professor Robert Thomson and his team, working in collaboration with physicists and engineers at the Universities of Bath and Edinburgh, have massively increased the technique’s potential applications. The team has multiplexed its detection capability by over two orders of magnitude, using advanced multicore optical fibres, photonic lanterns and single-photon-sensitive detector arrays.

In many cases, the most useful form of light is as a series of optical pulses, rather than a continuous stream. Previously, measuring the colours of light that form these pulses often required bulky and expensive instruments. One approach  is to use a technique known as time-stretch spectroscopy, but this technique has, until now, had limited applications outside the lab. Read more...

November 2016: Professor Ajoy Kar & Professor Gerald Buller elected as Fellows of the Optical Society of America

Heriot-Watt academics Professor Gerald Buller and Professor Ajoy Kar have been elected as Fellows of the Optical Society of America (OSA) in their 2017 Fellows class, which contained 96 new appointments from 19 different countries. Read more...

November 2016: Dr Erik Gauger - Catching the Sun

New research led by Heriot-Watt is offering the prospect of cheap and efficient solar cells of a conformable type that could be worn on the body or even painted onto windows.

Sunlight is our most abundant source of renewable energy, and learning how best to harvest this radiation holds the key to meeting the world's future power needs.

For solar energy to become a viable alternative to fossil fuels, solar cells need to be both inexpensive to manufacture and efficient in terms of energy they collect. Now a Scottish-led team have taken a major step towards this goal by using quantum mechanics to design molecular solar cells to be more efficient. Read more...

November 2016: Aurora Maccarone - PhD student wins Best Student Paper Presentation Prize

Aurora Maccarone, PhD student from the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, has won the Best Student paper presentation at the Emerging Imaging and Sensing Technologies Conference, part of SPIE Security and Defence 2016 held in Edinburgh in September 2016. Her prize includes a certificate, complimentary SPIE membership, free downloads of scientific papers and a cash sum. Read more...

October 2016: EPS Postgraduate Poster Event 2016

Congratulations to all the winners at the Annual EPS PGR Poster Event 2016.

The Annual EPS PGR Poster Event offers a platform for those students who have already completed or are approaching the end of the first year of study to showcase their research. It also provides an ideal opportunity for students and staff across the School to meet and discuss current projects.

A record number of 85 students presented their research at this year's event. Awards were presented to students for the best posters, as well as to students in their 2nd year for excellence in their research and an internal Thesis Prize. Read more...

May 2016: Successful First IPAQS Annual Symposium

On 19th May the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences (IPAQS) held its first Annual Symposium.  The event was very well attended with Professor Derryck Reid, Head of Institute, welcoming over 100 guests to the Post Graduate Centre Cairn auditorium.

The symposium included talks from a number of prominent speakers. The morning session started with a keynote by Professor Philip Russell, founding Director at the Max-Planck Institute for the Science of Light, entitled ‘The Multi-Faceted World of Photonic Crystal Fibres’. 

This was followed by two talks showcasing research highlights from within the Institute:

  • Dr Eric Gauger – ‘Collective light-matter interaction effects for the quantum enhanced absorption of light’
  • Dr Robert Thomson – ‘Photonic lanterns for precision astronomical spectrographs’

The afternoon session kicked off with the second keynote, given by Professor Tim Spiller, founding Director of the York Centre for Quantum Technologies and also Director of the UK Quantum Communications Hub, entitled ‘Quantum Communications and the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme’.

This was followed by a further three talks showcasing selected 2015 research highlights from IPAQS:

  • Dr Marcello Ferrera – ‘Dynamic nanophotonics with  transparent conducting oxides’
  • Dr Jonathan Leach – 'Detecting the unseen – Inverse problems in quantum optics'
  • Dr Richard Carter – 'Ultrafast Microwelding'

The day closed with a talk from one of our former Institute members who is the co-founder and managing director of the Heriot-Watt spin-out company Chromacity Ltd.:

Dr Christopher Leburn – 'Spinning out Chromacity – A steep learning curve away from academia'

Professor Derryck Reid would like to thank everyone who attended this event and helped make it a success.

May 2016: IPAQS First Annual Symposium 

The Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences at Heriot-Watt University is one of the largest groupings of photonics researchers in the UK, with activities spanning Ultrafast Photonics, Quantum Photonics and Quantum Information, and Applied Photonics.

On Thursday 19th May we are holding our first Annual Symposium featuring key note talks by Professor Philip Russell (Director at the Max-Planck Institute for the Science of Light) and Professor Tim Spiller (Director of the York Centre for Quantum Technologies).  We will also be showcasing research highlights from IPAQS during 2015.

Thank you to everyone who has registered.  Coffee is available from 09:50 in the Post Graduate Centre on Gait 2 with a start scheduled for 10:20.

For further details see our Symposium Schedule 

April 2016: Anti counterfeit hologram could end manufacturers' nightmare

Researchers at Heriot-Watt are developing a tamper-proof hologram that could replace serial numbers and barcodes, reducing the trade in counterfeit goods.

Manufacturers of high value goods like electronics and aviation parts etch serial numbers into products, use bar codes or place polymer holographic stickers on the items to provide identification and traceability of products and to assure customers of quality. However, serial numbers and bar codes can be damaged and stickers are vulnerable to tampering and counterfeiting.  Read more... 

March 2016: Making light work – new research to exploit light in manufacturing

Four projects that exploit light in innovative manufacturing processes and technologies have secured £2.7 million funding from the EPSRC.

Following on from 14 feasibility studies announced in 2014, these schemes, which have support from companies such as Rolls-Royce and Renishaw, have the potential to impact the aerospace, laser and precision engineering industries.

The projects are diverse and exciting in their aims. They range from producing ultra-thin films for use in electronics, to incorporating metallic nanoparticles into materials such as plastics that can act as sensors or anti-microbial surfaces, to using lasers to make crystals for thin-film lasers and using terahertz radiation to detect where materials are stressed. Read more...

February 2016: International Day of Women and Girls in Science

The School of Engineering & Physical Sciences at Heriot-Watt University celebrates the Inaugural International Day of Women and Girls in Science as designated by the United Nations. The Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences held an event where they picked their favourite female scientist, posed for a picture and gave their reasons for choosing that person. You can view some photos from the event.

Inaugural International Day of Women and Girls in Science – as proclaimed by the United Nations