PhD Studentship - High Energy Laser Beam Combination and Propagation of Tailored Beams

Physics, Electrical, Eletronics, Photonics.

Supervisory Team: Prof Andy Clarkson and Dr Jacob Mackenzie

Project description: 

The project is to contribute to a major Ministry of Defence (MoD) research programme intended to develop generation after next technologies for applications in defence and security.

The project will have two main themes. The first explores coherent beam combination to increase laser power well beyond the fundamental limits of a single laser. The emphasis of this work will be to investigate an all-fibre approach to eliminate (or reduce) the need for free-space optical components. The second explores whether beams with tailored profiles in terms of phase, intensity and polarisation can offer advantages in terms of atmospheric propagation and overall effect. For example, it is well-known that radially-polarised beams can yield significant benefits in industrial laser processing due to enhanced absorption. Similarly, it has also been suggested that beams with orbital angular momentum are more resistant to beam distorting effects. These represent two examples of beams with non-traditional profiles. Coherent beam combination offers the means to generate beams with properties tailored as desired and the means to vary these for different scenarios. 

The plan is to recruit a PhD candidate to undertake this project and be part of a new MoD/EPSRC Energy Transfer Technology Skills and Training (S&T) Hub. The main aim of the S&T Hub is to train the next generation of leaders in energy transfer technologies. The Hub is supported by MoD, Dstl, and UK companies working in the defence and security sector.

The student will be based at the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC, University of Southampton) and will be part of cohort of 12 PhD students across a number of UK institutions. The Skills and Training Hub will run online and face-to-face activities to facilitate cohort building and group learning exercises throughout the PhD programme. The ORC is one of the world’s leading research institutes in laser science. The project will involve close collaboration with our industrial partner (Dstl), who will contribute to PhD supervision by providing a placement opportunity and access to facilities to complement those at the ORC. 

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have a first class or a good upper-second class degree (or the equivalent) in physics, engineering or a related discipline.

Candidates must be UK Nationals and be willing to apply for and able to obtain Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) clearance.


For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £21,100 tax-free per annum for up to 4 years. Very generous funding to support travel to international conferences and training. There is also funding for students to travel to industrial partners and to do longer placements with the industrial partner.

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How to Apply

Click 'apply online now', then select programme type (Research), 2024/25, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, next page select “PhD ORC (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor (Prof. Andy Clarkson).

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  • Deadline
    August 31st, 2024
  • Hiring Multiple Candidates
  • Salary
    £21,100 (tax-free) + benefits
  • Degree required
    2:1 and above
  • Location
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Preferred Disciplines...
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical
  • Electronic
  • Information Technology
  • Physics
  • Software
  • Systems
Also Accepting...
  • All STEM disciplines
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