Available student project - Coherently combined laser systems for space technologies

Research fields

  • Photonics, Lasers and Nonlinear Optics
Space debris manoeuvring concept using a coherently combined laser system (optical phased array).

Project details

The ability to reliably transmit a laser field from Earth to Space is a challenging task due to fluctuations in Earth's atmosphere caused by wind and turbulence, where local areas of high/low pressure act as a lens to change the propagation of a light. Adaptive Optic (AO) systems are an enabling technology used in the large optical telescopes to overcome the distortion such lensing induces. Consisting of one or more deformable mirrors, an AO system senses the the time-varying image distortions and manipulates its mirror system to undo thier impact, allowing the recovery of the telescopes `diffraction-limited' angular resolution (set by its size).

Such AO systems may also be used in ranging or communication environments, where a local laser is transmitted from the telescope. Here the AO system `pre-distorts' the outgoing laser to minimise distorts through the atmosphere. One modern method of coherently combining lasers potentially allows potential improvement of the AO system by modifying the transmission `phase' of each laser to be combined. This form of `Optical Phased Array' has the potential to greatly simplify Earth-to-Space laser transmission. This project aims to investigate potential architectures for such hybrid systems, focussing on interstellar propulsion.

Required background

Optics and lasers, MATLAB

Preferred: PHYS2017 Wave and Optics, ENGN3223 Control Systems

Project suitability

This research project can be tailored to suit students of the following type(s)
  • 3rd year special project
  • PhB (1st year)
  • PhB (2nd or 3rd year)
  • Honours project
  • Phd or Masters

Contact supervisor

Ward, Robert profile

Other supervisor(s)

Shaddock, Daniel profile

Bandutunga , Chathura  profile

Updated:  15 January 2019/ Responsible Officer:  Head of Department/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster