Problems approving the approval of the approval

It's not dead it's pining for the fjords

Despite a number of sleepless nights and giving up almost all my free time over the last week, we will not be launching our crowdfunding project today. The reasons for this are many and complicated but I will do my best to explain. The project is ready to go, we have an advert, a video and a load of new blog content aimed at promoting it. I would have liked to have spent a little more time on the video but essentially it was good enough to send off last night. This was in order to coincide with the launch of Kickstarter Continue reading

Building a simulated oil leak generator

As part of our subsurface oil spill project I have been working on the development of simulation rig to demonstrate the sensor in schools. At the moment the sensor is already stable is water and response well to localised oil in water so the kit is mostly about showing that effect visually. My first video (below) shows me testing our initial set up to see if we get a good flow rate from the end of the buried sample tube into the water. In this video I’m simply using food dye as it shows up well and will give us Continue reading

Vortex rings – suggestions please

Schematic of vortex ring formation

My project over the last 3 years could be summed up as “getting stuff to stick to fibre optic sensors”. The sensors were kindly prepared by various other members of the group (best ones were by Rebecca) and I was then responsible for finding the right material to coat on to the fibre to make it sensitive to X. Exciting stuff, I know. Most of my coating work was done using a technique called Langmuir Blodgett, the first stage of which is preparing monolayers of material spread on a large trough of water. These monolayers are explained in slightly more Continue reading

OFS 22 Beijing, China

Steve, Fei and Thomas are attending the international conference on optical fibre sensors (OFS) this this week and are presenting a number of poster presentations of their work. If you are attending please go see them, they are only too happy to talk to people interested in the odd things we do! Poster Session 1: Tuesday 16th October 2012 PO1‐4 Multiplexing tapered optical fibres using coherent optical frequency domain reflectometry, Renata Jarzebinska, Edmon Chehura, Stephen W. James, Ralph P. Tatam, Cranfield Univ. (United Kingdom) [8421‐32]. Coherent optical frequency domain reflectometry is used to multiplex a serial array of tapered optical fibre sensors. By Continue reading

Journal copyright for figures – why it takes aaaaages

Wrapped in IEEE brand tape

Some time ago now, in a weak moment, Ralph and I agreed to write a review article on optical gas sensing for the journal Measurement Science and Technology, an IoP journal. This is a huge field and to do it justice we have written a rather large article with over 400 citations and 60 figures. It has been through peer review and is reaching the final stages of preparation, one of which is to get copyright permission to reproduce images from other peoples’ publications. Standard practice is that the authors have to do this, ie me. A review article is essentially Continue reading

Lab books exposed


In academia and industry there is still a reluctance amongst many scientist to share the details of their work with the wider community. Science has a long history of publishing results in  peer-reviewed academic journals. However, a growing number of researchers think that there is scope for wider openness and access to more detail of their published work. I will leave the reasons why I support this open-access model to another time as it is really part of a bigger discussion about improving the dissemination of science to related fields and to the public. Shifting from the old model to one based around Continue reading

Brewster angle Lego microscope

Lego BAM

Brewster’s angle is the angle at which light of a certain polarisation won’t reflect off a surface. The resulting reflection will then be made up of only light from a single polarisation (p-polarised). This little optical quirk is how polarised lenses remove lots of scattered reflections in photographs and why polarised sunglasses are so much better when lounging by the seaside. However, rather than just being something that makes sunny days even better, it also provides a neat trick for visualising things that would otherwise be invisible to other analytical methods. Brewster’s angle for water is approximately 53.1°, which is calculated Continue reading

Latest publication in Sensors and Actuators B

optical fibre with mesoporous coating

Our latest paper, published in Sensors and Actuators B, describes a highly sensitive device for detecting and quantifying the concentration of carboxylic acid. The work is part of an on-going collaboration between the Department of Engineering Photonics at Cranfield University  and The Graduate School of Environmental Engineering at the University of Kitakyushu, Japan, exploiting optical fibre based sensing platforms developed at Cranfield with the novel functional materials and coating techniques investigated by Prof Lee’s group at Kitakyushu. The operation of the sensor is based on the measurement of the change in refractive index of a functional coating deposited onto the Continue reading