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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M000869/1
Title: Shaped Light at the Interface
Principal Investigator: Dholakia, Professor K
Other Investigators:
Mazilu, Dr M Brown, Professor CTA Di Falco, Professor A
Gunn-Moore, Professor FJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of St Andrews
Scheme: Platform Grants
Starts: 01 September 2014 Ends: 31 August 2019 Value (£): 1,183,629
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Lasers & Optics
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
20 May 2014 Platform Grant Interviews - 20 May 2014 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Photonics - the science and application of light- is gaining ever more prominence in both an academic and industrial setting. The Platform Grant renewal at the University of St Andrews is in the field of shaped light and applications. We would like to develop studies that will impact on biological and medical healthcare, sensing, fundamental understanding of the classical and quantum world, and even allow us to monitor the impact of global climate change upon organisms living in "harsh" environments e.g. Antarctica. In particular, we wish to develop new adventurous, risky research themes to go outside our "comfort zone" and pump prime new activities. Our work will include:

i) Studies between photonics and materials science. This includes studies at the fundamental level where we will push our understanding of the classical physics of suspended micro-objects in vacuum and study the behaviour to see "quantum" effects as well as explore new directions in sensing. Imagine a sphere suspended in vacuum that is isolated from its environment. Such a sphere can be translated or set spinning solely by light. This can test our fundamental understanding: for example does the vacuum exert any friction or drag on the sphere? Do the material properties of the sphere make a difference? Can we use this as a probe to measure pressure in minuscule volumes? What happens when we slow down or cool the random motion of the sphere - can it enter a regime where quantum mechanics dominates? What happens if instead of a sphere we levitate a bacterium? As bacteria can live in 'harsh' environments such work could allow us to start to probe the classical-quantum boundary for biological objects.

ii) looking at new ways of imaging with light that could lead us to take images of large biomedical objects (eg tissue, small organs) with "minimal" exposure to light, meaning less damage and faster image acquisition. Can we use "compressive" techniques where we illuminate an object with predetermined light patterns that give us the information of the shape and texture of the object but now with only say 10% of the light we would use normally? We will use this ability to help the world initiative of "mapping the brain" by analyzing the singling of neurons in an intact network.

iii) explore new ways to image both the shape and the molecular composition of tissue; such photonics methods can help pathologists identify the early onset of diseases. The same technology, appropriately adapted, may be used to study the shell composition of Antarctic Krill. These marine animals are affected by local environmental temperature and nutrient composition and this is therefore an exciting marker for the impact of climate change. Can our methods be used for imaging other forms of marine life? Can we use shaped light to improve the depth penetration by up to one order of magnitude?

iv) can we develop new concepts in the area of sensing? Using simple paper based systems offers promise and can be used in conjunction with shaped light for new forms of multi-parameter sensing, telemedicine.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.st-and.ac.uk