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Welcome to Ultrafast Optics at the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences, Heriot-Watt University.  Our research concerns ultrafast lasers, those producing pulses of light lasting around 100 femtoseconds, and is motivated by developing novel solutions to problems in microscopy, metrology and spectroscopy.




8 October 2018

TV and press coverage of our paper describing how a mid-infrared OPGaP OPO is used to identify white powders by stand-off spectroscopy.


12 February 2018

Our frequency comb image from the Southern African Large Telescope is OPN Magazine's image of the week!


24 January 2018

Congratulations to Oguzhan Kara on a successful PhD defence, for a thesis titled, "Mid-infrared Dual Comb Spectroscopy with Asynchronous Optical Parametric Oscillators."


15 December 2017

Our new dual-comb spectroscopy paper is published in Optics Express, describing dual-comb spectroscopy using two asynchronous OPGaP OPOs.


10 November 2017

Congratulations to Luke Maidment on a successful EngD defence, for a thesis titled, "Coherent Sources and Techniques for Chemical Sensing Using Broadband Mid-Infrared Light."


13 October 2017

Congratulations to Professor Derryck Reid on his election to Fellow of the Optical Society of America.


11 April 2017

Congratulations to Marius Rutkauskas on a successful PhD defence, for a thesis titled, "Nonlinear Microscopy for Failure Analysis of CMOS Integrated Circuits in the Vectorial Focusing Regime."


14 March 2017

New astrocomb paper is now published.


1 February 2017

Invited paper by Prof. Derryck Reid at Photonics West 2017 on, Molecular spectroscopy from 5-12 μm using OP-GaP OPO.


21 November 2016

HIRES Instrument Consortium for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) comes to Edinburgh.
A high resolution spectrometer (ELT-HIRES) is one of five instruments proposed on the planned E-ELT telescope, a revolutionary new ground-based telescope concept with a 40-metre-class main mirror, making it the largest optical/near-infrared telescope in the world.  Heriot-Watt is a member of the calibration work-package in the HIRES consortium, which met in Edinburgh to discuss initial plans for the instrument. (more...)


9 August 2016

Roadmap on Ultrafast Optics (Guest Editor, Prof. Derryck Reid) is published.


20 July 2016

Invited paper by Prof. Derryck Reid at the 23rd International Symposium on the Physical and Failure Analysis of Integrated Circuits (IPFA 2016) on, Two-photon laser-assisted device alteration in CMOS integrated circuits using linearly, circularly and radially polarised light.


13 June 2016

Luke Maidment's paper, "Femtosecond pulses tunable between 5.5-10.4 um from a 1-um-pumped OP-GaP optical parametric oscillator," is shortlisted for the best student paper prize at CLEO 2016.


26 April 2016

First on sky results from Heriot-Watt's Ti:sapphire laser frequency comb deployed on the 10 metre Southern African Large Telescope. Comb lines and light from the star LTT7379 are seen together in this two-channel spectrograph image (more...).


22 March 2016

Contracts signed by ESO and the HIRES consortium formalise Heriot-Watt as a member of the Calibration Work-Package for the HIRES instrument planned for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).

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Research Projects

Frequency Comb Enabled Metrology for Manufacturing

This proposal aims to transition today's highest precision laser technology -- optical frequency combs -- from the lab to the factory, establishing the technique of dual-comb distance metrology as an enabling technology for manufacturing the next generation of precision-engineered products, whose functionality relies on micro-/ nanoscale accuracy.  More...

Remote Sensing of Greenhouse Gases With Asynchronous Femtosecond OPOs

Optical remote sensing is a key tool for GHG measurements across scientific and industrial applications. However, significant limitations exist in current technologies in terms of their bandwidth, resolution and range. Asynchronous femtosecond optical parametric oscillators (OPOs) could combine the spatial coherence of a laser with the bandwidth of a thermal source to provide high resolution measurements of multiple gases over long ranges. More...

METROCOMB femtosecond comb optical parametric oscillators for high resolution spectroscopy in the mid-infrared

The research necessary to extend the application areas of femtosecond frequency combs through the development of compact, robust, low-cost, commercially-exploitable sources is now possible; taking advantage of the fact that ultrafast laser pulses of femtosecond widths, separated by nanoseconds, manifest themselves as a phase-coherent comb of frequencies spread over a wide spectral band. More...

Precision Astronomical Spectrographs using Single-Mode Photonic Technologies

This STFC Consortium Grant thus brings together experts from the fields of photonics and astronomical instrumentation, with one clear and ambitious overall objective - to establish whether laser frequency combs and photonic-lanterns can facilitate astronomical spectrographs with unprecedented performance. More...

Ultra-Broadband Laser Frequency Combs for Precision Spectrograph Calibration

The astronomy community faces a critical problem in how to provide perpetual online calibration of new ultra-high-resolution spectrographs, which play a central role in answering today's "big questions" such as the discovery of extra-solar Earth-like planets, and the variation of "fundamental" constants. More...

Stand off laser identification of chemical contamination (SLICC)

This project will work across multiple strands of technology at different maturity levels to derisk future military systems needed to rapidly and accurately identify chemical contamination. It will encompass a wide range of topics from fundamental research through to sub-system testing and assessment. More...

HIRES Phase A study 2016+

This Phase A extension will be used to complete a topic-by-topic design study identifying a technical pathway allowing a degenerate optical parametric oscillator (OPO) frequency comb to meet the E-ELT science requirements. More...

Two-Photon LADA for Defect Localization in Integrated Circuits

We propose a two-photon Laser Assisted Device Alteration (2pLADA) technique for fault localization using a 1250nm femtosecond laser and a high numerical aperture (NA) Solid Immersion Lens (SIL) to achieve the 80nm lateral resolution metric demanded by the 11nm node. More...

Broad-Range Detection of Hazardous Aerosols in the 5–12-µm Region

We propose to develop already proven concepts to a higher TRL by: (a) extending the wavelength into the 5– 12-μm band; (b) further improving the sensitivity and selectivity of the technique; and (optionally), (c) developing, with commercial laser engineering support, a fieldable platform which can be evaluated at Dstl. More...

Compact Visible Frequency Combs: The Missing Link in a Vision of Pervasive Quantum Timekeeping

By leveraging advances in ultrafast lasers and integrated nonlinear photonic devices, this project targets the development of a disruptive laser-comb technology, compatible with visible clock transitions in new ion-based time standards, and with a scale suitable for integrating into quantum timekeeping devices needed by sectors from security and defence to geodesy and finance. The project is shaped by technical and financial support from leading industrial and academic partners. More...