We aim to be at the forefront of both basic science and technological advances in the area of light-matter interactions.

What we do

The electronic and optical properties of ‘designer semiconductors’ are engineered on the length scale of an electron or photon wavelength. We investigate nanoscale structures for squeezing electrons to the point where their wave nature produces interesting effects (from quantum wells to quantum dots), and microscale structures for controlling light on a wavelength-scale (microcavities and vertical-cavity lasers). Just as controlling the motion of electrons and photons in tiny spaces has lead us to exciting new phenomena, control over the motion on very short time scales is proving just as fruitful. We are also active in the emerging area of 'spintronics', where we control the spin of electrons and photons.

Major advances have been made by our group in measuring the energy bands of key ‘photonic’ semiconductors, and then in designing, characterising and optimising optoelectronic devices. Semiconductor lasers employing strained layers, first proposed at Surrey, are now ubiquitous in the industry. A Surrey speciality is the use of hydrostatic pressure as a diagnostic tool to vary the lattice constant of crystals in a controlled way, mimicking the effect of changing composition in a single device.

As well as high performance, the other main technological drivers are low cost or high efficiency. We are developing new silicon-based devices for cheap optical information transmission and manipulation. High efficiency emitters are needed for energy saving and long-life displays and lighting.

Some of our notable achievements

  • Design of the first strained layer laser in the mid 80's. The work conducted at Surrey was voted by UK academics as one of the top 10 UK scientific discoveries in the last 60 years.
  • Prestigious EPSRC Leadership, EPSRC Advanced Research, and Royal Society Research Fellowships awarded to our group members.
  • We have been awarded two of the largest ESPRC photonics grants in responsive mode.
  • Development of efficient photovoltaics for laser power transfer applications.