Active photonic thermometry (iCASE project)

This project aims to revolutionise how temperature is measured by using light. Using a combination of photonic design and semiconductor physics you will develop novel integrated active photonic resonators tuned to precisely measure temperature.

Start date

1 October 2019


Up to four years

Application deadline

Funding source

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Funding information

The studentship is fully-funded for UK applicants through an EPSRC iCASE award, covering the University fees and attracts a student stipend of approximately £18,000 per annum for eligible students. For EU applicants, the award covers the University fees only.


This iCASE (industrial Cooperative Awards in Science and Technology) project aims to revolutionise how we measure temperature. Temperature sensors are ubiquitous and have been developed to meet almost every niche requirement. However, the working standard for thermometers has barely changed in the last century and their manufacture is still relatively expensive. The aim of this project to exploit the exceptional capabilities and volume production potential of modern photonics and to develop devices which could challenge the role of conventional temperature measurement. Over the most widely used temperature range (around 0-100°C) such a device could have a large impact on thermal metrology and other applications. This project takes an entirely new approach to temperature measurement using resonant optical structures in active semiconductors such as GaAs and InP. Thermally-induced shifts in refractive index lead to a precise change in wavelength of the resonant optical structures providing an effective means of measuring temperature. Owing to the scalability and small size of photonic components, this approach has the potential for numerous scientific and commercial applications. The project will explore several new approaches for active photonic based thermometry systems. It will be design-led with fabrication of prototype devices. Using a combination of semiconductor and photonic structure modelling, the project will deliver novel designs for resonant photonic structures with embedded optical gain media.

The project will primarily be based within the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) and Department of Physics at the University of Surrey and will make use of the strong photonics design and fabrication expertise in the ATI. The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is a partner on the project and will provide world-leading expertise in metrology and temperature measurement while the Compound Semiconductor Centre in Cardiff will provide source material and expertise in commercialisation.

Eligibility criteria

This project is suitable for students with an interest in semiconductor technology, photonics and metrology.

A First Class (or a high 2:1) in all previous degrees (Bachelors and, if applicable, Masters) in a relevant discipline such as Physics or Electronic Engineering. 

IELTS Academic: Non-native speakers of English will be required to have IELTS 6.5 or above (or equivalent).

Further eligibility information.

How to apply

Formal applications must be made through the online application process under the apply tab on the Physics PhD course page.

Physics PhD

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Application deadline

Contact details

Stephen Sweeney

Studentships at Surrey

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