Prof. Tom J. Glynn

Prof. of Experimental Physics
Director NCLA

1968 B.Sc. Physics & Maths,  NUI Galway
1970 M.Sc. Physics, NUI Galway
1974 PhD Laser Physics, Queen’s University Belfast 

Tel: +353-9-492516

Research cluster and interests
LightHOUSE – Centre forApplied Photonics
National Centre for Laser Applications (Director)


The key interest of the laser-based research in NUI Galway is in improved understanding of the laser material interaction for a range of advanced and industrially important materials – ranging from polymers to metals to semi-conductors.  High-power lasers, now embraced by industry worldwide, and particularly by high-tech industry in the Galway region, are the ideal technology on which to build new products and processes.  Of particular interest to the group are laser-assisted processes - in which various ambient media, external fields, or other perturbations can enhance the laser processing step - and biomedical applications of lasers.   The centre has a wide selection of high-power lasers and a range of diagnostic tools for material characterisation.

A recent Marie Curie Transfer of Knowledge project was used to develop sophisticated models of the laser interaction, with and without ambient media assist.  These have provide valuable insight into the fundamental non-equilibrium processes involved, on very short time scales and high temperatures, when high power lasers interact with materials in the solid state.  The centre has substantial links with other third level institutions and with industry, both in Ireland and abroad.  Enquiries from prospective graduate students welcomed.

Selected Recent Publications

  • Volkov, A.N., O'Connor, G.M.Glynn, T.J., Lukyanov, G A. Expansion of a laser plume from a silicon wafer in a wide range of ambient gas pressures, Applied Physics A: Materials Science & Processing,  92,  p. 927-932, (2008).
  • Ivanov D. S., Rethfeld B., O’Connor G. M. , Glynn T. J. , Volkov A. N. and Zhigilei L.V.   The mechanism of nanobump formation in femtosecond pulse laser nanostructuring of thin metal films.  Applied Physics A: Materials Science & Processing,  92,  p.791-796 (2008).
  • Williams G.O., Mannion P.M., O’Connor G.M. and Glynn T.J.. Langmuir probe investigation of surface contamination effects on metals during femtosecond laser ablation.  Applied Surface Science. 254(18): p. 5921-5926, (2008).
  • Ilie D., Mullan C., O’Connor G.M., Flaherty T., Glynn T.J., Controlled process for polymer micromachining using designed pulse trains of a UV solid state laser. Applied Surface Science, 254, p. 845-849, (2007).


Prof. Chris Dainty

1970, PhD Physics, Imperial College London

Tel: +353-91-492826
Research cluster and interests Optics,Applied optics Group


The Applied Optics Group was formed in 2002 under a €5.2M grant from Science Foundation Ireland, and funding was renewed in 2007 until 2012 at €4.5M.  Currently there are approximately 25 researchers in the group, including 14 PhD students and academic staff (Chris Dainty, Nicholas Devaney and Alexander Goncharov).  Additional funding comes from Enterprise Ireland, the EU, IRCSET and industry. 

Research projects in the Applied Optics Group range from topics in vision to those in optical lithography.   Several projects involve the technique of adaptive optics, shown schematically in the figure on the left.  The key parts are the wavefront sensor, deformable mirror and the control system.
Several other projects involve imaging in the eye, with or without adaptive optics.  Another research area is optical propagation through turbulence and the application to free space optical communication.   This involves an understanding of the role -- and elimination -- of optical vortices.

In 2009, the Applied Optics Group expects to have 3-5 fully funded PhD posts available.  These include specific topics, such as an industrially funded project on vector polarimetry (a new method of imaging based on polarisation and electromagnetic theory), optics in exascale computing (an IRCSET Embark project with IBM Ireland) and smart optics (either IRCSET Embark with Fotonation Tessera or SFI funded) and open ones in any of the Group's research areas.  The group is well equipped for the research areas pursued.  Several lecture courses (e.g. Diffraction and Imaging, Geometrical Optics and Optical Design, Image Processing) are given by staff members of the group, and professional skills courses are offered each year.  Each PhD student is expected to attend and present papers at one international conference per year.  Frequent Colloquia and Group Meetings are held throughout the year.  There is extensive opportunity for interaction with industry: in the past two years, we have established relations with more than 40 companies, 75% of them based in Ireland. 

Selected Recent Publications:

  • H H Barrett, J C Dainty and D Lara,
    ‘Maximum-likelihood methods in wavefront sensing: Stochastic models and likelihood functions’, J Opt Soc Am A 24 391-414 (2007)
  • E Dalimier, J C Dainty and J Barbur, `Effects of higher order aberrations on functional vision as a function of light level', J Modern Optics 55 791-803 (2008)
  • A Goncharov, M Nowakowski, M T Sheehan and J C Dainty, `Reconstruction of the optical system of the human eye with reverse ray-tracing', Optics Express 16 1692-1703 (2008)
  • E Logean, E Dalimier and J C Dainty, `Measured double pass intensity point spread function after adaptive optics correction of ocular aberrations', Optics Express 16 17348 – 17357 (2008)

Dr Gerard M. O'Connor

Senior Lecturer in Physics
1989 BSc University College Galway
1994 PhD University College Galway

Tel +353 91 492513

Research cluster and interests

LightHOUSE - Centre for Applied Photonics, NUIG
Integrated Nanoscience Platform for Ireland, INSPIRE.

Research interests
My research interests are driven by LightFactory2020 -a vision for future adaptable factories based on using light & optics to make, monitor, and measure in manufacturing. LightFactory2020 is a personal vision, shared with the EU photonics community, that proposes a development programme for intelligent micro- and nano- scale manufacturing systems to develop adaptable, reconfigurable, knowledge intensive processes of the future.

Laser technology has the potential to compete with, disrupt, many other well-established micro- & nano-fabrication techniques. This activity addresses the challenge of using lasers to structure materials on scales which are below that determined by the diffraction limit associated with the wavelength of light. My research activities centres on hybrid, short pulse, laser processing of materials for nano-structuring.

The terms are explained as follows: Hybrid: Enables new laser processes for nano-scale structuring using gases, liquids, sacrificial solids, electric fields etc. Short pulses: Pulse durations, ~ 10-12 seconds, comparable to electron thermalisation time in materials. Processes based on laser ablation, material removal processes, with subsequent spontaneous reassembly and deposition. Nanostructuring:  applications in preparing functional surfaces, micro- and nano-scale structures from materials.

Enquiries from research students with interests in laser–matter–ambient interactions, optics, real-time imaging, gas phase chemistry and materials science are welcomed.

Selected Recent Publications

  • Expansion of a laser plume from a silicon wafer in a wide range of ambient gas pressures
    A. N. Volkov, G. M. O’Connor, T.J. Glynn, G. A. Lukyanov, Applied Physics A, (2008) 92: 927–932
  • Langmuir probe investigation of surface contamination effects on metals during femtosecond laser ablation, G.O. Williams, G.M. O’Connor, P.T. Mannion, T.J. Glynn, Applied Surface Science, (2008) 5921–5926.
  • The mechanism of nanobump formation in femtosecond pulse laser nanostructuring of thin metal films
    D. S. Ivanova, B. Rethfeld, G.M. O’Connor, T.J. Glynn, A.N. Volkov, L.V. Zhigilei, Appl Phys A (2008) 92:791-796
  • Controlled process for polymer micromachining using designed pulse trains of a UV solid state laser
    D. Ilie, C. Mullan, G. M. O’Connor, T. Flaherty, T.J. Glynn, Applied Surface Science, (2007) 845–84
  • Langmuir probe diagnosis of plasma expansion in femtosecond and picosecond laser ablation of selected metals, P.T. Mannion, S. Favre, D. Ivanov, G. M. O'Connor, B. Doggett, J. Lunney, & T.J. Glynn, accepted for publication (2005) in Journal of Physics Conference Series, 59 (2007) 753.
  • Estimating spot size and relating hole diameters with fluence and number of shots for nanosecond and femtosecond laser ablation of PET, C. Mullan, G.M. O'Connor, S. Favre, D. Ilie, and T. J. Glynn, Journal of Laser Applications, 2007, 19 (3) pp. 158-164
  • Electrical analysis of femtosecond laser pulse absorption in silicon, E. Coyne, G.M. O’Connor, and T.J. Glynn, European Journal of Applied Physics 34 (2006) 189.


Dr Nicolas Devaney


1985 B.Sc. Experimental Physics, University college Galway
1989 Ph.D. Physcs, University College Galway

Tel: +353-91-49-5188
Research cluster and interests

Applied Optics


My work is based on high-resolution imaging with applications in the fields of astronomy and imaging the eye. In astronomy, we have developed novel approaches to the detection of planets orbiting stars other than our sun (‘exoplanets’). The detection of exoplanets is extremely challenging, since they are billions of times fainter than their parent stars. It is all too easy to confuse residual image artifacts (‘speckles’) with faint exoplanets, and investigation of different approaches is a very active field of research. We cooperate with world-leading imaging specialists at the University of Arizona, as well as with astronomers at the European Southern Observatory.

Another field of interest is the development of the next generation adaptive optics systems, suitable for future ‘Extremely Large Telescopes’. We propose innovative solutions to some outstanding problems including how to increase the field of view of adaptive optics systems and how to improve the performance of these systems when using laser guide stars. Testing these solutions by simulation, laboratory tests and field trials on telesocpes would form the basis of a very rewarding PhD.

In retinal imaging I am interested in approaches to improving image quality and enhancing the performance of systems which automatically identify features in the retina (blood vessels etc.) or detect the onset of disease. These approaches involve simultaneous imaging and wavefront sensing, as well as the application of advanced deconvolution techniques. This work is carried out in collaboration with the Observatoire de Lyon (France) and a French company.

Selected Recent Publications:

  • Devaney, N.,E. Dalimier, T. Farrell, D. Coburn, R. Mackey, D. Mackey, F. Laurent, E. Daly, and C. Dainty, “Correction of ocular and atmospheric wavefronts: a comparison of the performance of various deformable mirrors”, Applied Optics, 47, 6550-6562 (2008)
  • Devaney, N., Goncharov, A., Dainty, C."The chromatic effects of the atmosphere on astronomical adaptive optics", Applied Optics, 47, 1072-1081, (2008)
  • Caucci, L., Barrett, H.H., Devaney, N., Rodriguez, J.J., "Application fo the Hotelling and ideal observers to the detection and localization of exoplanets", JOSA, A.,24,B13-B24 (2007)
  • Devaney, N., "Review of Astronomical Adaptive Optics", Proc. SPIE 6584 (2007) Goncharov, A. V., Devaney, N., Dainty, C., 2007, "Atmospheric Dispersion Compensation for extremely large telescopes", Optics Express, 15, 1534-154


Dr Richard Sherlock


1991 B.Sc. Physics, NUI, Galway
1998 Ph.D. Physics, NUI, Galway

Tel: +353-91-49-3595

Web address:

Research cluster and interests
LightHOUSE – Centre forApplied Photonics
National Centre for Laser Applications (Director)


Richard Sherlock leads the research activity in laser-based surface modification of materials.  The focus of the activity is the generation of sub-micron and nano-scale structures on materials in order to improve the response of living systems to biomaterials – to develop a new generation of bioactive materials.  The group develops laser-based techniques for fabricating novel surface structures and tests these in collaboration with groups working in the biological sciences, particularly in the PRTLI funded INSPIRE platform in nanoscience.

Materials meet for the first time at their surfaces and as such it is often the surface properties that define the nature of the interaction that happens.  Therefore, it is important to be able to control and the surface properties of materials for applications in biomedicine, sensors, tribology, electronics and other diverse areas of engineering.  In many cases – particularly biomedicine - sub-micron and nanoscale resolutions are required to deliver the necessary function.  Laser technology in combination with advanced optical approaches is emerging as a leading contender to provide reliable manufacturing tools for these next generation materials and devices.


The laboratories at NCLA are equipped with a range of state-of-the-art laser systems and ancillary equipment – including the recent upgrade of laboratory space to clean-room standard and the addition of new femto-second and pico-second laser systems.  This infrastructure will provide the basis of many exciting projects in the development of novel laser-based nanostructuring capabilities.  In addition, we have access to world-class research facilities through the INSPIRE grouping.  The group has worked successfully with researchers in Ireland and abroad in areas of bone, nerve and vascular tissue regeneration.

Participation in the INSPIRE platform also provides access to structured PhD programs with modules in cross-disciplinary topics relevant to nanoscience.


Selected Recent Publications:

  • Analysis of polymeric biomaterials after 172nm UV treatment using contact angle and XPS measurements  C O’ Connell, R Sherlock, B Aszalos, D Zemlianov, TJ Glynn.  Applied Surf Science (in press)
  • Effect of functionalized micropatterned PLGA on guided neurite growth   L Yao, S Wang, W Cui, R Sherlock, C O’Connell, G Damodaran, A Gorman, A Windebank, A Pandit.  Acta Biomaterialia 5, 580 (2009)
  • TEM investigation of laser-induced periodic surface structures on polymer surfaces  Ú Prendergast, S Kudzma, R Sherlock, C O'Connell, TJ Glynn.  Proc. SPIE 6458, 64581V (2007)
  • Comparison of cell interactions with laser machined micron- and nanoscale features in polymers  M Ball, U Prendergast, C O’Connell, R Sherlock.  Experimental and Molecular Pathology 82, 130 (2007)
  • Excimer laser and lamp-based techniques applied to the nanostructuring of biomaterials  U Prendergast, C O'Connell, R Sherlock, M Ball, G O'Connor, T Glynn.  Proc. SPIE 5827, 498 (2005)



Dr Alexander Goncharov

Lecturer in Physics

1998 BSc Moscow State Technical University, Russia
2003 PhD Lund University, Sweden

Room AO 204
Tel: +353-91-49-5189

Research cluster and interests Applied Optics Group

Optical imaging, adaptive optics,
3D modeling of the human eye and vison correction


Observational astronomy has been the main driver in developing new ideas in adaptive optics since its inception and this continues today with current plans to build the 42m European Extremely Large Telescope. This creates very fertile ground for adjacent fields in optical imaging, where adaptive optics can be efficiently used such as medical and industrial applications. With a strong emphasis on visual science in the Applied Optics Group, ophthalmic adaptive optics has become a new area of research. We have a particular interest in developing new methods and techniques for high- resolution retinal imaging. Using adaptive optics one could compensate the optical errors introduced by the human eye. This technique has a great potential for various challenging problems in ophthalmology, including wide field imaging and vision correction.

eye model

In addition we have a research effort that is focused on 3D modeling of the optical structure of the eye and vision simulation for people with different quality of vision. This area is aimed at getting a better understanding of psychophysical nature of vision, the origin of ocular aberrations and finding new ways to improve vision by introducing new types of contact and intra-ocular lenses. Finally, the Applied Optics Group collaborates with several vision-related research groups and ophthalmic centres in Europe.

Optical tomography in the human eye


Selected recent publications

  • A. V. Goncharov, M. Nowakowski, M. T. Sheehan, and C. Dainty, "Reconstruction of the optical system of the human eye with reverse ray-tracing," Opt. Express 16, 1692-1703 (2008).
  • A.V. Goncharov and C. Dainty, "Chromatic Wide-Field Eye Models with a GRIN Lens," in Frontiers in Optics, OSA Technical Digest (CD) (Optical Society of America, 2008), paper FThG2.
  • A. V. Goncharov and C. Dainty, "Wide-field schematic eye models with gradient-index lens," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 24, 2157-2174 (2007).
  • A.V. Goncharov, A. Burvall, and C. Dainty, "Systematic design of an anastigmatic lens axicon," Appl. Opt. 46, 6076-6080 (2007)





Centre for Applied Photonics
NUI Galway, Ireland.
Ph: 353-91-493595 Fax: 353-91-494594


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