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Postgraduate research project

Laser propulsion in hollow core fibres

Competition funded View fees and funding
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Closing date

About the project

This project will explore the unique capability of hollow core fibres (HFC) for kilowatt-class laser power transmission over kilometre-range distances, as recently demonstrated at the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) [1]. The project will be mainly experimental but will also include some numerical modelling to support the work. The project work will take place across several research groups, covering state-of-the-art high-power laser facilities and world-leading hollow-core fibre fabrication, allowing the candidate to collaborate with experienced researchers in both fields to achieve the project objectives.

The trapping and guidance of microscopic particles using the radiation pressure of light has been well known since the pioneering work of A. Ashkin in the 1970’s, which led to several important applications including optical tweezers in biology. In this project, the radiation pressure of laser light will be explored to levitate, guide and accelerate particles within HCFs, aiming at new opportunities in both radioactive sensing and hypervelocity particle acceleration.

In free space, the guiding range is typically limited to micrometre length scales due the divergence of the trapping laser beam. In HCFs the laser beam remains tightly confined within the hollow core, and with recent progress in developing record-low loss HCFs, it has become possible to guide and precisely position microscopic particles within kilometre-long fibres. This will allow the demonstration of “flying particle sensors” to achieve the remote detection of physical quantities such as electromagnetic fields or ionising radiation [2].

As opposed to normal glass-core fibres which are prone to radiation-induced damage, HCFs also have the unique advantage of radiation-hardness. Hence, HCFs may represent an innovative solution for remote sensing in highly radioactive environments. Particle acceleration is another research direction in this project, combining the radiation pressure from high-power lasers and the long HCF acceleration lengths to potentially achieve hypervelocity particle propulsion.

[1] H.C.H. Mulvad et al. Kilowatt-average-power single-mode laser light transmission over kilometre-scale hollow-core fibre. Nature Photonics 16, 448–453 (2022)

[2] D. Bykov et al. Flying particle sensors in hollow-core photonic crystal fibre. Nature Photonics 9, 461–465 (2015)


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