PowerPhotonic has pioneered an innovative laser micro-machining process to produce precision, free-form micro-optics. Our manufacturing technology, based on fundamental research carried out at Heriot-Watt University, enables us to rapidly iterate prototypes without setup costs at short turnaround times, and to cost-efficiently produce high-volume custom optics. The successful applicant will investigate new and improved methods of fabricating freeform micro-optics fabrication that will encompass: originating and investigating, new and improved methods of forming optical surfaces in a range of materials; coupling these forming methods to new and improved approaches in surface-finishing; and exploring new approaches to process metrology. The aim is to provide PowerPhotonic with the next generation of process technology based on fundamental research, and we expect this project to substantially further the company’s capabilities – how to go deeper, steeper, with a faster process, improving device performance and quality. The project will cover technologies from Selective Laser Etching and Femto-second Laser Processing, to Laser Smoothing, and potentially Ultra Precision Machining. The investigator in this applied EngD will be a member of PowerPhotonic’s R&D Technology Acquisition team, working onsite in Dalgety Bay (Fife), as well as at Heriot Watt University (Edinburgh) and potentially (and for very short periods) at third party locations (supported throughout by PowerPhotonic). During the project, the applicant will build a diverse skillset in the modelling, design, and the realisation of process technology. As such, they should have an enthusiasm for tackling challenging problems across a range of topics such as system design, laser-based materials processing, and optical surface metrology, as well as technologies associated with these topics.
The core of any thesis are the peer-reviewed publications generated during the research. Equally, an essential part of research training is presenting research findings at conference. PowerPhotonic expects the candidate (with suitable provision to protect IP and knowhow) to publish and present research findings throughout the course of the EngD.
The student will be based at PowerPhotonic’s main site in Dalgety Bay, Fife. The location has excellent transport links with Edinburgh (the Dalgety Bay train station, which is a few minutes’ walk from the office, is on the Fife Circle line and very well served)
The project will be a combination of lab (clean room) and desk (for data analysis, etc.) work. As of Nov 2021, the Company is operating in a hybrid mode – staff are working from home in general but are free to work in office if they wish. They are expected to attend in person when required for events that are best served in person (group meetings, training, etc.) and of course when working in the lab. It must be noted that although no substantial change to these arrangements is expected, they are subject to change (in the current environment). The student will also spend time at Heriot-Watt University, which possess fabrication technology key to this project. There is also potential for the student to spend some time, supported by PowerPhotonic, at third party sites.
The working environment has evolved as a result of COVID, with the better aspects of the flexibility it generated being retained by the company.
At PowerPhotonic we work to a core day of 9.30am to 4.00pm five days per week, with an employee required to work 37.5 hrs per week. PowerPhotonic operates as a professional organisation, and values flexibility in the workplace. The student is responsible for attending punctually for work in accordance with their agreed hours of work, and we can discuss as part of the application process working hours and conditions.
It should be noted that as the project will involve a considerable degree of lab work, fully remote working (i.e., exclusive and/or outwith travel to PowerPhotonic or Heriot-Watt) is incompatible with the project’s aims.
CDT Essential Criteria
A Masters level degree (MEng, MPhys, MSc) at 2.1 or equivalent.
Desire to work collegiately, be involved in outreach, undertake taught and professional skills study.
Project Desirable Criteria
PowerPhotonic’s core values of Innovation, Collaboration, Transparency and Excellence are the foundation for the company’s growth and success.
Enthusiasm (and not necessarily experience) for the technology, and motivation to update and expand knowledge and skills.
Excellent interpersonal skills. Strong communicator with a positive, personable, and professional attitude.
Desire to work effectively in a project-driven environment, both independently and as part of a team.