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Photonics and Instrumentation

Research Centre for Photonics and Instrumentation

The Centre has an established international reputation in the areas of measurement and instrumentation, sensor development, optical systems and photonics.

The work builds on advanced experimental and theoretical developments to meet increasing industrial needs for advanced sensing and measurement and new developments in photonic devices and systems.

About the centre

Our vision

Being an internationally-leading ‘flagship’ Research Centre, recognised for its contribution and impact to these fields and ranging in its scope from basic scientific research to applied research, with an ultimate goal of addressing challenges in science and engineering and environmental processes through innovation in sensing technologies and in photonics systems and devices.

Expertise and capabilities

The Centre is engaged in a breadth of research activity, covering the areas of sensing, photonics and telecommunications and drawing strength from synergies across these areas.  It has particular expertise in novel optical fibre-based sensor design, fabrication and implementation, system measurement and control, waveguide and novel optical device modelling, design and modelling of solar cells with nanostructures, instrumentation and signal processing.

Membership

Academic staff (Core members)

Research staff

Dr M Fabian (Research Fellow in Sensors)
Research field: Fibre-optic sensors for industrial applications
Contact: matthias.fabian.1@city.ac.uk

Dr Hien Nguyen (Research Fellow in Sensors)
Research field: Chemical sensors, Optical fibre sensors, Molecularly imprinted polymers, Fluorescent conjugated polymers.
Contact: hien.nguyen@city.ac.uk

Dr Miodrag Vidakovic (Post-doctoral Fellow in Sensors)
Research field: Design, development and evaluation of Fibre-optic based sensors for industrial applications
Contact: Miodrag.Vidakovic.1@city.ac.uk

Dr Y Chen (Post-doctoral Fellow in Sensors)
Research field: Fibre Bragg grating (FBG) based sensing devices
Contact: ye.chen@city.ac.uk

Dr Bruno Rente (Post-doctoral Fellow in Sensors)
Research field: Fibre optic sensors for industrial applications
Contact: bruno.rente@city.ac.uk

Dr Souvik Ghosh (Post-doctoral Fellow in Photonics and Sensors)
Research field: Fibre optic bio-chemical sensors, integrated waveguides, plasmonics
Contact: souvik.ghosh@city.ac.uk

Dr Jonathan Silver (RAEng IC Post-doctoral Research Fellow)
Research field: TBC
Contact: TBC

Visiting staff

Dr Colum McCague (Visiting Research Fellow)

Professor Richard Scott (Consultant, Structural Engineer)
Contact: richard.scott.1@city.ac.uk

Prof David Monk (Consultant, Optical and Telecommunications Engineer)

Prof David Johnson, FREng (Consultant, Railway Engineer)

Dr Len Rogers (Consultant, Assent Engineering Ltd)

Current PhD Students in Photonics Modelling Group

Mr Aamir Gulistan
Research field: Reduced mode coupling and nonlinear interaction in optical fibres
Contact: aamir.gulistan@city.ac.uk

Mr Sunny Chugh
Research field: Integrated optics, silicon photonics, machine learning, numerical simulations
Contact: sunny.chugh@city.ac.uk

Mr Junchao Song
Research field: Phase change materials, silicon photonics
Contact: junchao.song@city.ac.uk

Miss Sneha Verma
Research field: Nano-photonic devices, fibre optics
Contact: sneha.verma@city.ac.uk

Current PhD Students in Sensors Group

Mr Kasun Dissanayake
Research field: 2D material based fibre optic sensors, long period grating (LPG)
Contact: kasun.dissanayake@city.ac.uk

Mr Rahul Kumar
Research field: Sensors based on RareEarth doped Upconverting Nanoparticles
Contact: Rahul.kumar@city.ac.uk

Miss Tania Grandal
Research field: TBC
Contact: TBC

Mr Jan Werner
Research field: TBC
Contact: TBC

Research activities

The research activity of the centre builds upon the foundation of research applied to practical and industrial problems in measurement and instrumentation in 1970 by Professor Ludwik Finkelstein FREng and since then the centre has fostered close links with industry, the professional bodies and groups internationally to support its mission.

In the sensors area, important contributions are being made in the development of a range of novel optical fibre sensors for various applications such as:

  • operation under very high temperatures and under extreme conditions;
  • condition monitoring of various structures, ranging from concrete, composite, limestone, through pantograph, electrical motors to marine propellers;
  • early fire and gas detection using novel tuneable fibre lasers;
  • drug/explosive detection using molecular recognition techniques;
  • agri-food and environmental monitoring using both molecular recognition and surface-plasmon-resonance based sensing methods.

In the photonics area, a wide spectrum of research is being undertaken to

  • create new time-domain electro-magnetic and acoustic models for the characterisation of light-matter interactions;
  • design and optimise novel guided-wave structures in both optical and THz regimes using finite element methods;
  • Design optimisation of photonic crystal fibres, SOI-based waveguides, nonlinear photonics, and polarisation diversity PIC;
  • Design of integrated low-loss hybrid plasmonic waveguides and resonators for detection of temperature, liquid concentration, gas and vapour sensing applications;
  • Water quality monitoring and detection of heavy metal ions (mercury, cadmium, chromium, lead etc.) and pathogens by low-cost special type optical waveguides and fibre sensors.

View a gallery of related photographs and diagrams


Industrial/Academic Research Partners

BAE SystemsBrecknell WillisCleanskyCRRCDynexFraunhofer ICTHighways EnglandIndian Institute of ScienceIndustrial Microwave SystemsMacreteMeggerNERCNetworkRailPollinsRailway Industry AssociationRSSBSengeniaSerco logoShanghai Jiao Tong UniversitySydney WaterTeignbridgeThe Concrete SocietyTongji HospitalUniversity of MalayaWabtec CorporationWartsila

Portrait of Sanowar Khan

Professor Sanowar Khan

Funded research projects

Principal Investigator

Co-Investigators

Project Title

Funder

Amount awarded to City (excl. partners)

Start Date

End Date (incl. no-cost extension)

Grattan, Ken

 

George Daniels Educational Trust

George Daniels Educational Trust

£520,000

2014

2019

Grattan, Ken

 

Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair

Royal Academy of Engineering

£330,000

2014

2019

Rahman, Aziz

Grattan, Ken

Innovative low-cost optical sensor platform for water quality monitoring

National Environment Research Council (NERC)

£395,548

30.01.2018

29.01.2021

Rahman, Aziz

In collaboration with China

Integrated waveguides using phase changing material

The Royal Society

£111,000

01.03.2016

28.02.2019

Rahman, Aziz

In collaboration with Egypt

Solar cell

Institutional Link by British Council

£200,000

01.04.2018

31.03.2020

Rahman, Aziz

In collaboration with University of Malaya (UM), Malaysia

Nonlinear Photonics

The Royal Society

£6,000

01.09.2017

31.08.2019

Rahman, Aziz

In collaboration with University of Malaya (UM), Malaysia

Newton Researchers Link Workshop on Biophotonics

Newton Ungku Omar Fund

£40,000

01.02.2018

31.01.2019

Rahman, Aziz

In collaboration with Brazil

Silicon Photonics

The Royal Society

£12,000

01.08.2018

31.07.2020

Sun, Tong

 

Smart railway electrification: evolvable from contact to contactless

Royal Academy of Engineering/Faiveley Brecknell Willis

£543,700

01.06.2018

31.05.2023

Sun, Tong

Grattan, Ken

Smart railway/metro transportation using optical fibre sensing and Internet of Things (IoTs)

Innovate UK

£499,828

01.06.2018

31.05.2020

Sun, Tong

 

Regional Engagement Awards

Royal Academy of Engineering

£75,000

01.03.2019

28.02.2022

Sun, Tong

Grattan, Ken

Photonics sensors and interrogator for humidity measurements in anaerobic digester

Sydney Water

£22,219

01.06.2018

31.05.2020

Sun, Tong

Grattan, Ken

Field implementation of photonic humidity sensors in sewers

Sydney Water

£97,000

01.06.2017

31.05.2020

Sun, Tong

Grattan, Ken

Self-sensing railway electrification system for efficient operation and improved maintenance

Innovate UK

£999,416

01.01.2018

31.12.2020

Sun, Tong

Grattan, Ken

Development of optical fibre-based thrust/torque transducers for a research marine vessel

Teignbridge

£13,432

01.01.2018

31.12.2019

Sun, Tong

Grattan, Ken

Early detection of glaucoma through the development of ‘smart’ contact lenses for real-time intraocular pressure (IOP) monitoring

Royal Academy of Engineering

£99,200

30.04.2017

29.04.2019

Sun, Tong

Grattan, Ken

Smart pantograph for remote condition monitoring

Faiveley Brecknell Willis

£189,583

01.01.2014

31.12.2020

Portrait of Azizur Rahman

Professor Azizur Rahman

Potential research student projects

The following are potential research student projects for doctoral candidates joining the PhD Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Fibre Optic Sensors for Structural Health Monitoring

Professors K T V Grattan and Tong Sun

Structural Health Monitoring (SHM), whether in buildings, bridges or in other types of structure has become increasingly important as a means to monitor the ‘health’ of the structure, to become aware of internal damage or decay before surface effects show or to schedule maintenance. Conventional methods of monitoring are often inadequate due to the difficulties in either sourcing or incorporating sensors in the structure. This project seeks to develop new types of SHM systems using fibre optic sensors which can be integrated into the structure itself, either when it is made or retrofitted. The project is highly interdisciplinary and bridge between civil and structural engineering, materials science, photonics and optics. The aim is to create, evaluate and optimize sensors and to undertake field testing in association with partners in the UK and internationally. The work is supported by funding from UKIERI through the British Council.

High temperature fibre optic sensors

Professors K T V Grattan and Tong Sun

Conventional sensors are often limited in the extent to which they can be used at elevated temperatures due to damage and failure of the device. The temperatures at which many processes in industry operate has been increasing and in certain sectors, such as aerospace, temperatures well over 1000°C are common. Operation in this region calls for a new class of sensors and optical fibre-based techniques can be developed to deal with the measurement of key parameters such as temperature itself, pressure, strain and chemical parameters. This is done through the use of either exotic glass fibres or fibres based on sapphire, for example. The project seeks to design and develop a number of such sensors, to evaluate their characteristics for operation at such high temperatures and to compare performance with conventional devices. The project is supported by the EU Clean Skies funding scheme, linking to several partners in Europe and the UK.

Fibre Optic based chemical sensors for heavy metals monitoring

Professors Tong Sun and K T V Grattan

Sensors for a variety of chemical measurements are increasingly needed in industry today and greater reliability and accuracy as well as reduced sensitivity to other measurands, be they physical or chemical is important. Many conventional chemical sensors, such as for toxic gases or environmental pollutants are inadequate to deal with the demands of meeting legislative requirements or long term, in situ operation – many current techniques use sampling techniques which are inherently prone to error. This project seeks to use synthetic chemical techniques to create new coatings which can be bound to optical fibre, to create sensors which can detect a number of toxic heavy metals, such as mercury and cadmium, especially in soil samples. The aim is for a fibre sensor system that can be distributed over several kilometres in length and monitor these toxic substances whether they are underground or on the surface. The project is supported by the EU through the POLLINS project and is undertaken with partners across Europe who are involved.

Fibre optic based sensors for security and safety applications

Professors Tong Sun and K T V Grattan

Enhanced security, both personal and societal, is an area of increasing focus and an area where it is clear that new techniques are needed for better monitoring. This project focuses on one aspect of such security through the development of sensors for the detection of illicit drugs in society. The work seeks to develop a fibre optic sensor that is reliable and accurate, that can be used in the field and that is capable of providing selective measurement of cocaine, in the presence of a number of ‘cutting agents’ that are widely used. The sensor development will focus on the synthesis or suitable coating using molecular imprinted polymer techniques to provide that selectivity and yet allow for a light weight, rapid response and secure device. The work is supported by the Home Office in the UK.

Silicon Photonics

Professor B M A Rahman

With the rapid development of silicon CMOS technology for semiconductor industries, there is significant research interests to develop silicon photonics. The large index contrast allows sub-micron size waveguides and very compact bends, and these properties can be exploited to increase functionality, reliability of a photonics chip and also reduce the cost. However, designs of silicon photonic devices are also challenging as modes are fully hybrid and require very fine spatial resolution for their simulations. The Photonics Modelling Group has developed fully-vectorial rigorous numerical methods for photonic devices using computationally efficient finite element method and has already reported designs of silicon-based polarization splitters, polarization rotators, slots waveguides, and bio-sensors. New PhD students are sought to continue work on the development of slot waveguides, high-speed modulators, polarization diversity designs, more efficient solar cells and improved coupler designs in silicon.

Nonlinear Photonics

Professors B M A Rahman and K T V Grattan

The minute nonlinear properties of optical materials are exploited to design exotic photonic devices. The Photonics Modelling Group has developed fully-vectorial rigorous numerical methods for photonic devices using computationally efficient finite element method and has already reported designs of second harmonic generations, high-speed modulators, supercontinuum generations and stimulated Brillion scattering in optical waveguides. New PhD students are sought to extend these works for the development signal generation in mid-infrared and THz frequency regions and development of better distributed SBS sensors.

Photonic Crystal Fibres

Professor B M A Rahman

The development of low-loss optical fibres has contributed towards the revolution of Photonics. Following that earlier invention another major improvement in optical waveguiding has been the concept of photonic crystal fibres (PCF). We have developed accurate computer codes to analyse such complex microstructures and already reported on the designs of PCFs for both optical and THz wave guidance. We have also reported on the enhancement of modal birefringence by introducing asymemtry, reduction of THz modal loss by introducing porous core, introducing defect-core for sensing applications and a novel concept of quasi-crystal for better control of their spot-size and dispersion properties. We would like to have new PhD students to work on the development of new signal sources by tailoring its dispersion properties and novel sensors.

Non-Invasive Measurement of Cholesterol in Human Blood by Electrical Impedance Technique

Professor S H Khan

The prime topic of the research is to develop theoretical basis, establish proof of principle and build a technology product demonstrator of a novel instrument sensor for non-invasive measurement of total blood cholesterol based on electrical impedance technique. Using detail numerical FE modelling results, an experimental prototype is to be designed and built to validate and refine the FE models and obtain realistic bio-impedance data by experimental studies. This will then act as a prototype sensor sub-system for a novel instrument for non-invasive measurement of blood cholesterol.

Development of High-Speed, Long-Lifetime and Large-Force Electromagnetic Actuators Based on Smart Alloys

Professor S H Khan

This project involves the development of novel electromagnetic (EM) actuator valves based on magnetic shape memory (MSM) smart alloys. The current state-of-the-art, based on EM solenoid technology is ultimately restricted to less than desired lifetime due to inherent mechanical limitations. For further extension of lifetime (10-15 billion cycles), a novel and a step change in the technological solution is needed. To address this issue, the research focuses on the development of conceptually novel actuator valve based on MSM alloys. This would be a major development in an area of smart materials technology that has enormous potential to be used in a wide technology area where high-speed multibillion-cycle lifetime is needed (e.g. bulk food sorting, aerospace, automobile fuel injection, anaesthetic fluid delivery, etc.).

Mathematical Modelling and Design of Current and Voltage Sensors in Non-Conventional Instrument Transformers (NCIT) Using Smart Materials

Professor S H Khan

Instrument transformers are an integral part of power networks for highly accurate and reliable measurement of primary (line) current and voltages. Conventional instrument transformers with traditional current and voltage sensing are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the demands and requirements of modern ‘digital’ power grids, especially smart grids. To address these issues non-conventional instrument transformers (NCIT) have been developed in recent years. This research proposes a novel approach for current measurement in NCIT using a sensor concept based on magnetic shape memory (MSM) smart alloys, which change shape under magnetic field.

The ‘Internet of things’

Dr F Surre

The aim of this project is to explore the research potential around the ‘internet of things’, looking at the fusion of research, enterprise and learning in this environment.

News and events

  • The Research Centre of Photonics and Instrumentation has been a runner up for the 2016 Royal Society Athena Prize in recognition of their position as a role model for inclusiveness by promoting good practice and addressing cultural barriers through active academic connections with groups not just at City University but widely across the Middle East and Asia
  • Professor KTV Grattan was awarded OBE in Queen’s 2018 Birthday Honours List for services to science
  • Professor T Sun was awarded OBE in Queen’s 2018 Birthday Honours List for services to engineering
  • Professor T Sun was awarded Faiveley Brecknell Willis/RAEng Research Chair for the project entitled ‘Smart Railway Electrification: Evolvable from Contact to Contactless’, 2018-2023
  • Professors Grattan and Sun are the Innovation Award Winner 2017 by Australian Water Association, in collaboration with Sydney Water to achieve better management of sewers – exploiting photonics sensors research through its introduction to the Water Industry.
  • International Conference – XXII IMEKO World Congress 2018 organized by UK Member organization and led by Professors Ken Grattan and Sanowar Khan:  https://imeko2018
  • Plenary talks by Prof. B. M. A. Rahma