About Us

Our research explores the application of lasers and optics for a range of material processing, optical metrology, and sensing applications. The applied nature of our work means that we work closely with industry as well as other UK and International research groups.
Prof. Duncan P. Hand

Prof Duncan Hand has been at Heriot-Watt University since 1991, following his PhD studies at the University of Southampton. He leads research activity in applications of high power lasers, particularly in manufacturing, with additional work on optical fibre delivery of high peak power laser light, and also on surgical applications of lasers. He is currently leading a suite of projects, funded by EPSRC, Innovate UK, EU and industry. His manufacturing research encompasses micro-welding, surface modification, surface patterning, engraving, and micro-machining, covering a range of applications areas from ship engine parts to miniature medical devices. In addition to his research interests Duncan is currently Deputy Head of the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences.


Dr William N. MacPherson

William is an Associate Professor whose research interests are centred around the application of optical and fibre-optic techniques for measruement and instrumentation. This work includes high bandwidth temperature and pressure sensors for aerodynamic and explosion monitoring, novel fibres for structural monitoring, vibration and acceleration measurement, and studies into potential sensing applications of novel microstructured fibres.


Prof. Jonathan D. Shephard

Currently Professor in the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences Prof. Shephard’s research (Applied Optics and Photonics) is targeted at number of areas: Medical laser applications (e.g. cancer surgery, eye surgery, orthopaedic surgery, dentistry); Integration of high-power lasers and optical fibre technology into advanced manufacturing processes (including robotic systems) and; Novel hollow core optical fibres. He focuses on developing multidisciplinary projects with academic and industrial partners and medical end users such as surgeons.


Prof Shephard received the BA degree in Engineering at St Johns College, Cambridge University in 1994 and then joined Pilkington Plc (1994-1995) working within R&D. He then returned to study within the Department of Engineering Materials, University of Sheffield and was awarded an MSc (Eng) with Distinction in 1996. He subsequently remained at the University of Sheffield where he worked on developing novel mid-IR transmitting optical fibres and waveguides. He obtained his PhD in 2000 for his work on “Surface modification of IR transmitting glasses for integrated optics” and continued to work in the area of novel mid infrared fibres and optical materials. In 2003 he joined the Applied Optics and Photonics Group at Heriot-Watt University, working on the development of novel micro-structured (Photonic Crystal) fibres and is now Professor within the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences leading the development of novel high power laser surgery techniques.

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Dr Richard M. Carter

Richard's research interests revolve around high-power laser manufacturing and fibre optics. Recent projects have included: high power beam delivery with novel hollow core fibre optics; fibre optic environmental sensing; micro material processing including machining, drilling and welding; microwelding of highly dissimilar materials; and most recently the use of experimental design techniques to calibrate industrial ultra-short laser processes. His research has led to collaborations with a number of external partners including AWE, Renishaw, Leonardo MW, Gooch and Housego, M-Solv, Oxford Lasers, MTC, CPI, University of Bath, University of Manchester, Cranfield University, Cambridge University and the CSIR (India).


Richard graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2005 with an MPhys, from the Universities of St-Andrews and Heriot-Watt with an MSc in photonics and opto-electronic devices in 2007 and in 2012 from Heriot-Watt with a PhD developing long period fibre gratings for environmental gas sensing. He was then joined the high power laser applications group at Heriot-Watt as a research associate investigating laser based production processes. He was one of the founding members of the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Laser Based Production Processes and in 2018 was appointed a Research Fellow (Lecturer) within the Institute for Photonics and Quantum Sciences at Heriot-Watt University.

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Research Staff






Krystian's research interests revolve around the development and investigation of laser-based processes for precision manufacturing. This includes ultrashort-pulsed laser micromachining and joining of transparent materials, CO2 laser polishing of glass substrates, laser texturing, engraving and marking of metals, as well as the exploitation of adaptive optics for laser machining processes. During his research career, Krystian has collaborated with many external partners, including Renishaw, SISMA, M-Solv, SPI Lasers, MAN Diesel, PowerPhotonic, the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), Cranfield University, and UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

Krystian is currently engaged in the ERC funded project called MILEPOST (Microscale Processes Governing Global Sustainability) in which he develops novel tools and processes for the rapid manufacturing of porous network models using transparent materials. Within this project, he also investigates techniques for the fabrication of miniature optical fibre sensors (OFS) and methods suitable for embedding OFS inside the models. The ultimate goal of this project is the development of three-dimensional pore network models with integrated sensors that will help better understanding of the fluid flow and reactive transport processes in porous media at pore level.

Krystian graduated from the Wroclaw University of Science and Technology (Poland) in 2006 with an MSc (mgr inż.) degree in Electronics and Telecommunication, and from Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh) in 2011 with a PhD degree in Physics. His PhD research was focused on the investigation of surface deformation mechanisms during CO2 laser micromachining and polishing of optical glass substrates. In 2011 Krystian joined the Applied Optics and Photonics (AOP) group as a postdoc Research Associate where he has worked on several industrial-oriented projects. Between 2013 and 2018, Krystian was a member of the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Laser-based Production Processes (http://www.cim-laser.ac.uk). In September 2016, he joined the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions (https://rccs.hw.ac.uk/) where is engaged in the MILEPOST project.

PhD Students