|The research strategy of the lightHOUSE proposal is centred on the development and application of advanced technologies in the field of Applied Photonics – a research field which underpins several key research areas including bio-medicine, nanoscience, optical communications, and micro-electronics. The proposed programme underpins the current research activity of NCLA in laser micro-fabrication as well as that of Applied Optics in optical instrumentation and control, and enables lightHOUSE to address more fundamental challenges such as laser nano-structuring. It also builds on the existing synergies between NCLA and Applied Optics where the convergences of advances in optics with laser based fabrication technologies can be realised.
The research strategy is formed by 4 strands:
The lightHOUSE initiative focuses on advancing Photonics based technologies that underpin and enable other advanced technology fields such as nanoscience, ICT and biotechnology. The emphasis in this strand will be to concentrate on developing applications in areas such as nano-structuring for biomedical applications, nano-particulate generation, and optical control/delivery techniques for ultra high resolution processing for the benefit of other partners.
Science of Laser-Material Interaction
A core aim will be to develop, based on a combination of experimental and computational techniques, a fundamental understanding of the interaction of laser energy with advanced materials on time-scales from milliseconds to femto-seconds. It has been recognised that the capability to experimentally validate theoretical hypotheses and computer simulations in one research centre would be almost unique in the area of laser micro and nano-fabrication.
This strand will seek to conduct research related to technologies that, although pre-competitive, have already entered the mainstream of scientific and technology research.
This research strand will seek to identify ‘blue sky’ research programmes within the Applied Photonics field where the timeframe for technology readiness is perhaps greater than 5 years. It is expected that the research capability and fundamental understanding developed in the other strands will support and drive lightHOUSE as a foundry for future technologies in photonics.
Creation of an industrial hub for photonics research and training
The interaction and engagement of industry and the community in general with lightHOUSE will be facilitated by this strand of the research strategy. Plans include the expansion of the existing schedule of workshops, conferences, outreach school programmes, and training modules in lasers and applied optics via the lightFORUM initiative. The lightHOUSE strategy is strongly informed by the emerging initiatives in the international Photonics community, such as the Photonics21 Technology Platform and EU Framework 7 Nanotechnology, Materials, and Production programme, in which lightHOUSE members are heavily involved.
Development of a centre for graduate education in photonics
In collaboration with other partners it is proposed to put in place the infrastructure for delivering high quality PhD programmes in optics and laser based fabrication. In addition to equipment, the infrastructure will include advanced course in optical design, laser material interactions, computational sciences, etc. The courses in Photonics and Nanoscience will further strengthen these areas within the University curriculum. This strand will also incorporate the area of graduate scientific and workplace skills training which is seen as key to ensuring that post-graduates fulfil their potential and be of optimal benefit to the scientific and research community.