UCL News


New centre sheds light on science of photonics

13 August 2009


Fibre optic cable photonics-dtc.org/" target="_self">Photonics Systems Development
  • UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • A new centre for doctoral training at UCL is preparing to train the next generation of experts in the growing science of photonics.

    Just as electronics uses electrons to perform different functions, photonics combines electronics with the control of photons - elementary 'packages' of light - to perform similar or more advanced functions.

    It includes the study of the generation, emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, detection and sensing of light.

    The real-world applications of photonics span everything from telecommunications to medicine and visual art to agriculture.

    Everyday examples of photonic systems include barcode scanners, laser eye surgery, holographic art, and mine laying and detection devices.

    The new centre for doctoral training (CDT) in Photonic Systems Development is a collaboration between UCL and the University of Cambridge.

    It is one of UCL's nine doctoral training centres funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC).

    It has been created to train future scientists and engineers with multidisciplinary skills to tackle the challenges that arise from the growing use of photonic systems.

    The first year of the PhD will take the form of taught modules and the following three years spent working on a specific project in a host department at UCL or Cambridge.

    Dr Cyril Renaud (UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering), who is UCL site director of the CDT, said the first intake of students would start a four-year programme in September.

    He said: "Photonics is becoming a core technology in many applications. For example, modern communication systems have fibre optics at their heart. For this to operate efficiently, photonic systems developments are essential."

    "A recent European study showed that photonics is the fastest growing industry, faster even than micro-electronics. Therefore there's a huge demand for skills and expertise in photonics and that's what we're trying to answer."

    For more information about PhD research in photonics follow the link above.

    Image: Fibre optic cable, an example of applied photonics.


    UCL context

    In December 2008 UCL won funding for seven new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs). In addition, UCL's doctoral centre at the Life Sciences Interface - CoMPLEX - was renewed last year. This gives UCL a total of nine CDTs created to 'generate the scientists needed for Britain's future.' Each centre will receive around £6m in funding to pay for a total of nearly 400 students to take part in four-year doctorate programmes over the next five years.

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