Kerrianne Harrington

Research Associate

Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK

About me

Photonics is a beautiful subject, and it underpins many of the exciting elements that revolutionised telecommunications, new possible forms of entertainment, and tools for sensing and detection, such as for medical devices. I am particularly excited by research that allows me to develops novel optical systems and optical fibres for applications.

I am interested in controlling light with optical fibres, and in designing and making novel fibres and fibre devices for practical applications.

Current work

I am a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bath as part of the interdisplinary project 'u-Care'. I work on developing hollow optical fibres and systems for UV-C light (200-220 nm). u-Care will exploit cutting-edge techniques in laser physics to develop new sources of deep UV light which are compact and robust. We will develop ways to precisely deliver this light for new therapies that target some of the biggest challenges facing medicine: cellular-precision cancer surgery, and the emergence of drug-resistant “super-bugs”.

Previous work

I was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Southampton. In my work with the Optoelectronics Research Centre, I worked on airguide optical fibres called hollow core fibres. These are exciting optical fibres that are different to conventional fibres because light is guided in air instead of glass. Many applications that use these hollow core fibres will need to integrate them with the foundations of existing fibres systems and components. My work focused on interconnecting hollow core fibres with solutions that are low-loss, reliable and mechanically strong. Beyond telecommunications, I am interested in the far-reaching impacts optical fibres have in other fields such as medical diagnosis, sensing and measurement, and high power lasers. I am enthusiastic that speciality optical fibres can be applied to an endless expanse of problems, and look forward to contributing to research that will allow the full benefits of hollow core fibres to become future transformative solutions.

Other work

Previously, I was a Post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bath. In my work with the Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials, I built optical experiments to investigate nano- and micro-structures, often to image or explore how these structures interact with light. I worked with Richard Bowman on developing an optical system for investigating the dim modes of plasmonic nanostructures.

Nanophotonics is the study of light on the nanometer scale. Metallic structures interacting with light at this scale will have interesting resonances, similar to radio waves and antennae. Plasmonic structures have benefitted applications such as sensing, communications and quantum optics. For example, it can improve signals from a sensing technique called Raman scattering, which is a well utilized tool in medical diagnosis and chemical analysis.

A dimer is an example of a plasmonic structure formed of two closely-spaced spheres of noble metal that are tens of nanometers in size, and spaced around one nanometre apart. In the gap the electric field is strongly enhanced and molecules can be placed and detected. Imaging the resonances in the scattered light of these plasmonic structures is of research interest, but this is not easily captured. My current research seeks to better explore the ‘dim’ modes of plasmonic nanostructures by building a new optical system. This optical system can better capture the light from these dim modes, for us to inspect with spectroscopy.

For my PhD, I fabricated novel optical fibres, often for biomedical applications. Much of my research with Tim Birks and Stephanos Yerolatsitis involved post-processing optical fibre fibre. Access to both the optical fibre tower, a taper rig and splicing rig allowed me a lot of freedom to develops novel optical fibres and devices for a range of applications.