Photonics Europe 2018: Strasbourg

In April, Jane and Dan attended the SPIE Photonics Europe conference in Strasbourg, capital of the Alsace-Lorraine region and centre of the European Parliament. The conference is the largest of its kind in Europe covering  the most significant photonics technologies—from digital optics to quantum technologies to attosecond science.

Grande Île de Strasbourg from Petite France. (© D.Francis)

Jane had an invited presentation on her work on the use of integrating spheres as gas cells and Dan presented recent work on refractive index measurement using low-coherence interferometry. Both talks were in the Optical Sensing and Detection conference. The talks went well and were well attended even though they were at awkward times - Jane was at 8:30 in the morning and Dan was in the afternoon of the last day!

Jane and Dan at Photonics Europe, Strasbourg.

Conference presentations

In-situ pathlength calibration of integrating spheres used in measurement of absorbance (Invited Paper)
J Hodgkinson, S Bergin, D Francis, D Masiyano, N M Davis, S E Staines, and R P Tatam
Presented at Optical Sensing and Detection V (Part of SPIE Photonics Europe),
Strasbourg, France, April 2018
Proc. SPIE 10680 Article number 106800C (2018)

Refractive index and dispersion measurement using low-coherence interferometry with broadband confocal scanning
D Francis, H D Ford, and R P Tatam
Presented at Optical Sensing and Detection V (Part of SPIE Photonics Europe),
Strasbourg, France, April 2018
Proc. SPIE 10680 Article number 106800I (2018)

Australian Congress on Applied Mechanics

The 9th Australian Congress on Applied Mechanics (ACAM9) was held in November at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney. Engineering Photonics was represented by Edmond Chehura who was invited to present his work on fibre Bragg gratings for structural health monitoring.

The conference provided an international forum for researchers, industry practitioners, engineers and postgraduate students to promote, exchange, and disseminate recent findings on contemporary and wide-ranging topics in applied mechanics.

Sydney harbour bridge.

Delegates were provided with site tours of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation's synchrotron facility and UNSW's centre for automated manufacturing of advanced composites, as well as a banquet dinner on a cruise ship in the Sydney harbour.

Edmond's invited talk was titled 'Structural monitoring using in-fibre Bragg grating sensors' and discussed Engineering Photonics' expertise in the monitoring of a range of processes such as manufacturing, structural testing, and materials characterisation. His talk had particular emphasis on novel case studies in the process monitoring of advanced fibre-reinforced composites. Examples included an aircraft tail-cone assembly and superconducting magnet systems that were monitored using optical fibre sensors that were capable of multi-functional and multi-parameter measurements.

Sydney Opera House.

Photonex 2017

In October, the Engineering Photonics team attended Photonex 2017; the UK’s premier showcase event for photonics and light-based technologies. The event was held at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry; home of the Wasps rugby team and Coventry City football club.

We were one of more than 90 companies and institutions exhibiting and were there to demonstrate some of the optical sensing and measurement solutions that we have been developing. The systems on display were the same as those presented at the trade show in Munich earlier in the year with the addition of a dual-channel swept source optical coherence tomography system for measurement of flow velocity in micro-fluidic channels.

The Engineering Photonics stand at Photonex '17

More details on the individual demonstrators can be found here.

In addition to the trade show, the event hosted The Enlighten Conference, which included over 120 speakers in 15 programmes. Engineering Photonics had three talks in the conference, all within the Optical Metrology for Manufacturing programme.

‘Position measurements for manufacturing applications using range-resolved interferometry’
T. Kissinger

‘Dual-plane optical coherence tomography imaging for velocity measurement in small-scale flows’
E. Rigas, J. M. Hallam, H. D. Ford, T. O. H. Charrett, and R. P. Tatam

Laser speckle correlation sensing for industrial robots’
T. O. H. Charrett

Laser: World of Photonics, Munich 2017

In June, 8 members of the Engineering Photonics team attended the Laser World of Photonics trade show in Munich. This is one of the world’s largest trade shows for optics and photonics and is held biennially at Messe München to the east of the city. This year there were nearly 1,300 exhibitors and more than 32,000 visitors.


The Neues Rathaus on Marienplatz.

We were there to exhibit a series of demonstrated experiments from a range of research areas within the group, including wavelength control, optical gas sensing, fibre-based interferometric sensing, and laser speckle odometry. More details on the individual demonstrators can be found here


The completed stand.

After a hot and tiring first few days setting up the stand and all the demonstrators, we were finally ready to begin the show. Although we were dwarfed by the Hamamatsu stand opposite, ours looked very impressive and professional by the time it was completed. The stand was very popular and we had many visitors, both new and well-known, from companies and universities around the world. It was a job to keep track of all the business cards that we had acquired!


At one of the quieter times during the fair.

In addition, the trade fair is held in conjunction with the World of Photonics Congress which holds a number of conferences including SPIE Optical Metrology, and CLEO. The group had three talks in the conferences presented by Thomas, Vangelis, and Tom. Details of the talks are provided below.

It was a very busy week but we still found plenty of time to enjoy the sights of Munich and the Bavarian beer and sausage!


Jane, Ralph, Kevin, Vangelis, Tom, Thomas, and Steve (L-R) enjoying a drink at the Ratskeller.

Conference presentations

Laser speckle velocimetry for robot manufacturing
T O H Charrett, Y K Bandari*, F Michel*, J Ding*, S W Williams*, and R P Tatam
Presented at Optical Measurement Systems for Industrial Inspection X (Part of SPIE Optical Metrology), Munich, Germany, June 2017
Proc. SPIE 10329 Article number 103291Z (2017)
*Welding engineering and laser processing centre, Cranfield University, UK

Interferometric fibre-optic curvature sensing for structural, directional vibration measurements
T Kissinger, E Chehura, S W James, and R P Tatam
Presented at Optical Measurement Systems for Industrial Inspection X (Part of SPIE Optical Metrology), Munich, Germany, June 2017
Proc. SPIE 10329 Article number 1032925 (2017)

Microfluidic velocity measurement using dual-plane optical coherence tomography imaging
E Rigas, J M Hallam, T O H Charrett, H D Ford, and R P Tatam
Presented at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics, Munich, Germany, June 2017

Photonics West, San Francisco 2017


San Francisco skyline from Yerba Buena island. (photo © D.Francis)


Photonics West, the world's largest multidisciplinary event for optics and photonics with over 20,000 delegates, was held at the Moscone Centre in San Francisco from 28th January to 2nd February 2017. Engineering Photonics was represented by Daniel Francis and Sergiy Korposh (now a lecturer at Nottingham University) who presented their work at the BIOS conference which specialises in biophotonics, biomedical optics and imaging.


Sergiy and Dan at the Bios conference, Photonics West.


Dan presented work on spectroscopy for point-of-care diagnostics using mid-infrared quantum cascade lasers and Sergiy presented a paper on biomedical application for optical fibre sensors.



Engineering photonics at FLAIR 2016

The FLAIR conference, now in its 5th edition, brings together industrial and academic researchers to explore and discuss field laser applications for sensitive and selective detection of molecular species. This edition was held for the first time in the beautiful French mountain resort town of Aix-les-Bains. With a particular interest in gas sensing applications, Jane, Sarah and Nick attended, presenting three posters describing their work on both the use of integrating spheres as gas cell and the use of specific lasers for methane detection.

Sarah, Jane, and Nick attending the FLAIR conference in Aix-les-Bains.

Sarah, Jane, and Nick visiting the Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard near Annecy during the FLAIR conference.


The poster topics are as follows:


Methane detection using an external cavity Bragg grating stabilised laser at 1651nm

N.M. Davis, S.G. Lynch, J.C. Gates, J. Hodgkinson, P.G.R. Smith and R.P. Tatam

Typically, commercially available laser diodes in the near infrared have to be custom made at a particular wavelength, such as Distributed Feedback (DFB) lasers. This requires significant investment with potentially low yields. The latest results in the development of a new, external cavity, Bragg stabilised laser for tunable diode laser spectroscopy (TDLS) were presented. The design uses a silicon-on-silicon platform incorporating a UV written Bragg grating as the wavelength selective element of the laser cavity. Thus, custom wavelengths can be written “on demand” with relatively low capital investment.


High frequency modulation for pathlength calibration of an integrating sphere

S. Bergin, T. Kissinger, J. Hodgkinson, and R.P. Tatam

Pathlength calibration presents one of the major challenges for integrating sphere gas cells as the achievable pathlength is a sensitive function of the sphere wall reflectivity. The use of high frequency laser intensity modulation allows for the pathlength to be calculated in real time, and without the requirement for a reference gas cell.

Setup used for high frequency laser intensity modulation for integrating sphere pathlength calibration.

Setup used for high frequency laser intensity modulation for integrating sphere pathlength calibration.

ICL based TDLS instrument developed for airborne measurements of atmospheric methane.

ICL based TDLS instrument developed for airborne measurements of atmospheric methane.

Detection of methane at 3.3µm using an integrating sphere and Interband Cascade Laser for environmental applications

N.M. Davis, D. Francis, J. Hodgkinson and R.P. Tatam

Several platforms are used worldwide for airborne atmospheric monitoring of various gases, based on tunable diode laser spectroscopy (TDLS). For high signal-to-noise ratios multipass optical cells are used, which are difficult to align and increase the problem of optical interference fringes. On aircraft, high levels of vibration and large temperature fluctuations compromise performance compared with laboratory operation. We have developed a gas sensor for use on aircraft using an ICL, allowing for the detection of the fundamental absorption bands of methane at 3.3µm, and an integrating sphere as the gas cell. These cells are easy to align, insensitive to vibration and do not produce interference fringes.

Fully funded PhD studentships in Engineering Photonics!


We are currently looking for five PhD students to join us, working on a range of projects including;

  • Full-field optical strain instrumentation for the measurement of dynamic impact events
  • Gas sensing using micro-structured optical fibre for environmental monitoring
  • Investigation of laser speckle from complex systems for sensing applications
  • Optical fibre sensing using fibre Bragg gratings for impact measurements in composite materials
  • Range-resolved interferometry for high-accuracy dimensional metrology

To make enquires or submit an application, please contact Prof. Ralph Tatam, Head of Engineering Photonics [email protected]

The full advertisement can be downloaded here

Lord Kings Norton Medal goes to Engineering Photonics student

Former Engineering Photonics PhD student Thomas Kissinger, who now works as a research fellow within the group, has won Cranfield Universities’ highest honour for doctoral students, the Lord Kings Norton Medal for his PhD thesis1 entitled “Range-resolved optical interferometric signal processing”.

Graduation Day

Graduation Day

The medal was presented as part of this years’ graduation ceremony on the 8th of July 2016. This medal is awarded annually to the most outstanding doctoral student of the year and is the only prize for which students compete across the two campuses of the University.  The award was established in 1978 by our former Chancellor, Lord Kings Norton of Wotton Underwood, who sadly passed away in 1997, aged 95 years.


Front and back of Lord Kings Norton medal


1. T. Kissinger,  "Range-resolved optical interferometric signal processing”, PhD Thesis, Cranfield University (2015).


International Conference on Vibration Measurements by Laser Techniques and Non-Contact Techniques

Results from the multi-surface vibrometry system developed at by Engineering Photonics1,2 at Cranfield University were presented by Thomas Kissinger at the 12th International conference on laser vibration measurements held in Ancona, Italy.

Figure 1 The conference was held in the historic Muse theatre in the heart of Ancona.

Figure 1 The conference was held in the historic Muse theatre in the heart of Ancona.

Apart from the obvious benefits of good food, nice weather and historic surroundings, see Fig. 1, the long running Ancona laser vibrometry conference is the premier conference in the field. It is a suitable venue to present our work on multi-surface vibrometry, which allows displacement signals from multiple semi-reflecting surfaces along a single laser beam to be evaluated simultaneously. This new technique allowed the concurrent measurement of differential and common-mode vibrations of the cryostat (see Fig. 2) and could also be of use in other situations where differential displacement or vibration measurements are required.


Figure 2 Typical measurement results obtained from an optical cryostat, showing how differential measurements (bottom) can be extracted from the two directly measured signals of the cryostat window and target (top).


Engineering Photonics participation in the 2016 Set for Britain poster competition

Thomas Kissinger and Matthew Partridge from the Engineering Photonics group travelled to the Westminster Parliament on the 7th of March 2016 to present their science to an audience of parliamentarians and representatives of learned societies as part of the Set for Britain competition for early stage researchers organised by the UK Parliamentary and Scientific Committee.

The poster presentation was held at Portcullis House, which is part of the UK Westminster Parliament Complex in London.

The poster presentation was held at Portcullis House, which is part of the UK Westminster Parliament Complex in London.

Matthew took part in the Chemistry competition with a poster entitled “Fibre Optic Chemical Sensing”, while Thomas took part in the Engineering competition with a poster named “A Fresh Look at Optical Interferometry”. They were among the 60 presenters competing for each category. Although neither of them won a prize, it was interesting experience and a chance to update the Engineering Photonics poster collections with a new set of posters aimed at a general, non-scientific audience. In the true spirit of open science these posters are publicly available via our new Cranfield University Figshare account1,2.

Matthew posted a description of his experience at the conference on his blog, Errant Science.



“A Fresh Look at Optical Interferometry” by Thomas Kissinger

“A Fresh Look at Optical Interferometry” by Thomas Kissinger

“Fibre Optic Chemical Sensing“ by Matthew Partridge

“Fibre Optic Chemical Sensing“
by Matthew Partridge