Leading photonics and imaging research on display

Posted on: 11/04/2018

The KTN will be showcasing cutting edge photonics and imaging technologies from universities and spin out companies in London on the 1st May 2018.


Imaging and photonics are key enabling technologies that have applications across a multitude of industries. The UK is leading the world in many areas of photonics and imaging research, developing technologies that are pushing the barriers of what can be imaged and even how we see an image.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow have developed a gravimeter the size of an accelerometer that you have in your smart phone. By using a microelectromechanical system (MEMS), the team has been able to miniaturise and dramatically reduce the costs of the sensor. With a sensitivity of 40 billionths of 1g, the gravimeter is able to track magma moving kilometres under volcanoes before eruptions. The MEMS gravimeter will be cheap enough to create sensor networks, allowing multi-pixel ‘images’ of subterranean areas of interest and be small enough to be flown on drones for remote airborne surveys.

Merging state-of-the-art optical communication hardware with real-time optical and digital signal processing, researchers at the University of Kent have developed an ultrafast imaging/spectroscopy technique that overcomes the fundamental compromise between sensitivity and speed in imaging which has enabled new discoveries and applications in scientific research and engineering. These include the detection of rare circulating cancer cells in blood with unprecedented sensitivity (one cell in a million) and high-throughput optical coherence tomography for manufacturing and process control.

While THz imaging has long held promise for materials characterisation, astronomy, biomedical imaging and pharmaceutical monitoring, the bulky and expensive laser technology has limited its applications. Now, using quantum cascade lasers – extremely compact, semiconductor sources of high power THz radiation – researchers at the University of Leeds have developed a compact, non-invasive imaging platform for probing chemical and structural information across a range of applications.

A project led by Durham University makes use of sub-atomic particles that are produced continuously and naturally in the earth’s upper atmosphere that are highly penetrative; muons are detectable at the base of mines up to 2 km deep. The team at Durham have developed a system that can be deployed in deep-subsurface boreholes in hostile conditions of salinity and temperature and enables any large-scale variable density monitoring, such as void space in man-made structures. The technology could even help navigate underground tunnel excavators.

Researchers at Cardiff Metropolitan University have developed a new way of representing the perceptual structure of visual experience. By combining art and science they have developed a new visual language called Fovography to describe how we see. It represents the world as we actually see it, not as cameras do, and is one of the most significant advances in depicting vision since the development of linear perspective. Fovography not only has applications in advertising and entertainment but also in architecture and medical imaging.

To find out more about these and other emerging photonics and imaging technologies, come along to SET2018 – Photonics and Imaging in London on the 1st May 2018.

If you have any questions about the showcase, please contact Charlie Winkworth-Smith.

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