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Photonics Teme


Photonics is the field that encompasses the properties, generation, manipulation and exploitation of light. It extends from fundamental quantum physics through device physics and technology and systems engineering to applications across a broad spectrum of modern life including science, medicine, most sectors of industry, and in everyday consumer products and services. Photonics underpins areas as diverse as Bose-Einstein condensation, broadband telecomms, gravity wave detection, eye surgery, audio/video consumer products, quantum cryptography, and advanced manufacturing.

Photonics research is very strong in Scottish universities with much of it internationally leading. This is highlighted by the fact that around 50% of EPSRC grant funding for photonics is held by the >50 Scottish academics who together with RAs and research students comprise a SUPA photonics research community of >250. St Andrews, Strathclyde and Heriot-Watt have built large physics-based concentrations of photonics research, while Edinburgh and Glasgow have more recently created optics research groups. Electrical engineering at Glasgow has world class research in semiconductor optoelectronics, and there is significant engineering-based photonics at other universities. Interdisciplinarity is a very strong feature of photonics research, with many strong links established across classical subject boundaries into biology and medicine, chemistry and materials science, electronics and engineering.

Key objectives of the SUPA photonics theme plan:

  • Promote interdisciplinarity with biology, computing, engineering and life sciences.
  • Exploit strengths in theoretical and experimental photonics at the quantum limit.
  • Seize unique Scottish opportunities in biophotonics and photo-medicine.
  • Provide an integrated platform for research into nano-structured photonic devices.
  • Accelerate the development and exploitation of advanced laser technology.
  • Contribute to knowledge transfer via commercialisation initiatives, licensing
    and formation of spin-out companies, in partnership with, e.g., Scottish Enterprise

Download the Photonics leaflet:

Theme Leaders: Robert Thomson (