About us

Engineering Photonics at Cranfield University is one of the UK's leading optical sensing and instrumentation research centres. The department's research portfolio is broad, encompassing fibre optic sensors, optical flow measurement instrumentation, speckle interferometry, spectroscopic gas detection and medical imaging. The emphasis of our activities lies in the development of instrumentation to tackle engineering measurement problems, while offering scope for more speculative, blue sky research.

Our department comprises about 25 people: academics, post-doctoral researchers, post-graduate research students, a technician and an administrator, and is led by Professor Ralph Tatam, who has worked in this area for more that a quarter of a century. Over the years we have published a large number of research papers, patented a few things, and used many of the instruments that we have developed in anger, in real-world environments, making measurements that are often not possible using other technologies. We work on solving measurement problems on different scales; recently we have placed optical fibre sensors in large objects and structures with the aim of measuring physical parameters like strain, temperature and pressure, in superconducting magnets, inside composite materials used in the manufacture of aircraft, on railway tracks and in concrete foundation piles. At the other end of the scale we are examining the influence of individual molecular layers of materials, deposited onto an optical fibre device, on the transmission spectrum of the optical fibre with the aim of highly sensitive and selective detection of chemicals.

We have also been developing gas sensors to detect the concentration of greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane, and developing medical imaging techniques to look under the surface of the skin. The historical origin of the group can be traced back to a desire to make measurements of the flow of air through jet engines, and is area in which we still have interest.

Engineering Photonics student selected for STEMship programme

Sam Gibson is one of 30 students nationwide who will embark on the two-year support programme which offers, amongst other benefits, a £1,500 scholarship, an overseas experience at a leading engineering institution, and membership to the Women’s Engineering Society (WES). The programme, launched by Santander UK, is dedicated to supporting female engineering students and aims …

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IR WORKshop: Princeton, NJ

In November, Jane Hodgkinson travelled to Princeton University, New Jersey, to attend Laser Components' 7th International WORKshop on Infrared Technologies. She also presented a joint paper with Cranfield University's National Flying Laboratory on the use of retroreflective materials in maritime search and rescue. The workshop focusses on new developments in all fields of IR technology …

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PGI conference, NPL 2019

The Postgraduate Institute for measurement science (PGI) conference brings together experts and practitioners in the field. Now in its fourth year, the PGI celebrates the success of its unique strategic partnership with the University of Surrey and University of Strathclyde. Students, scientists, academics, industry and others will present their latest advances in science and the …

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IEEE Sensors: Montreal 2019

In October, Laura Aime attended the 2019 IEEE Sensors conference in Montreal, Canada to present her work on the development of a Fibre Bragg grating pressure sensor. Conference paper Optical fiber Bragg grating based pressure sensor using a composite diaphragm for pressure measurements L F J Aime, A Verzeletti*, S W James, and R P …

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