Applied Photonics

Researcher in one of HW Applied Optics Laboratories

The scale of photonics-based research at Heriot-Watt, from novel optical devices through to their application to solve engineering problems, is unique within the UK. Applied Photonics has earned an international reputation in fundamental science-based and engineering research, with widespread links to industry, a commitment to knowledge transfer and long-term collaborations with many leading research teams worldwide.  

Key themes of our research include:

High Power Laser Development and Industrial Application

Our research spans from the design of new laser concepts through to the study of laser-matter interactions. Heriot-Watt made pioneering contributions to gas lasers with the creation of a radically new design concept, the planar waveguide. The concept has been exploited commercially by all the major CO2 laser manufacturers and resulted in total sales of lasers and systems in excess of $900M. We undertake fundamental studies of precision laser material machining (including cutting, drilling, joining and fine sculpting) for a wide range of applications. Our research includes the use of optical fibres for delivering high power laser light and for monitoring and controlling laser processing.

Optical Sensing and Communication

Difficult or unique measurement requirements in science, biomedicine and engineering inform our research into novel optical measurement techniques. Fibre optics offer great flexibility in taking precise optical measurements. We use point sensors fabricated onto the end of fibres, fibre Bragg grating sensors, Long Period Grating sensors, and novel embedding of sensors into structures. New optical diagnostic techniques have been devised for multi-point vibrometry, CMM-mounted optical probes and weld-shield-gas flow monitoring, resulting in commercial instruments from our collaborators.

Our Research Groups

For more information please visit the research-group sites below or contact Dr Bill MacPherson.: