EngD - High-Reliability Materials for High-Intensity Laser Applications (Heriot-Watt University)

UniKLasers Ltd

Selection and recruitment to this project will be conducted in parallel with the other projects being advertised with Unik Lasers.  Only two of the three projects will be available for starting in 2018.

Project Description

The environment within a laser is a harsh one. The light incident on optical surfaces can have peak intensities as high as several GWcm-2 with wavelengths ranging from the IR to the UV. This presents difficulties for many of the optical materials that are commonly used within laser resonators, and the problems of degradation and optical damage are relatively common. The weakest point on an optical material is often the surface, and the quality of that surface’s finish can easily reduce the threshold for degradation by an order of magnitude. To add to this, if contamination is present within the laser resonator then this can further reduce the damage threshold of the component surfaces, leading to unexpected failures and shorter laser system lifetimes.

This 4-year EngD programme will examine the physics and chemistry of the materials used within laser resonators to increase understanding of the root causes of laser-induced degradation. This investigation is expected to explore the photochemical and thermal degradation of optical materials when exposed to high intensity light at a number of important wavelengths. Other topics will include outgassing of chemical species and measures to mitigate their effects, the identification and testing of improved optical materials for laser applications, and the characterisation of various optical surface finishes and testing of their resistance to laser damage. 

Information for applicants

Essentail Criteria

·         A self-motivated individual, capable of working independently

·         The enthusiasm to learn and to extend into new areas as part of this multi-disciplinary project

·         The capability to multi-task and to adapt to the fast-changing world within a growing technology company

Desirable Criteria

·         Knowledge of laser physics

·         Knowledge of photochemistry

·         Knowledge of surface chemistry

·         Experience of materials analysis techniques, such as gas-chromatography and EDX