University of Glasgow logo


Available Industrial PhD Studentships

Rockley Photonics Industrial PhD Studentship

Project title: Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers for advanced silicon photonics applications


About the Company

  • Rockley Photonics is an up-and-coming leading manufacturer of silicon photonics chips and system-on-chip solutions for datacom and sensor applications with approximately 110 employees. They undertake very significant R&D and advanced manufacturing activities in the areas of silicon photonics and III-V semiconductor devices at sites across the U.S.A, U.K. and Europe.
  • Rockley Photonics is driving datacenter switching towards new levels of integration by combining merchant silicon switch ASICs and bulky optical transceiver modules into a single low-power, high-density co-packaged optics product.
  • Rockley Photonics' solutions deliver economies of scale and superior performance, and are applied to a broad range of markets including sensing, and machine vision.
  • Rockley Photonics has an extensive R&D partner ecosystem for developing new and improved design and process IP to stay ahead of the competition, in particular in the U.K. and Europe.


About the Project

  • Primary Location: After the training phase, the PhD project will be academic-based, primarily at the University of Glasgow.
  • Supervisory Team: Principal academic supervision from Professor Tony Kelly at the University of Glasgow. Professor Kelly has worked on Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers since 1993 and has used them in a range of applications including the demonstration of the worlds fastest regenerative logic gate in 1999. The student will also receive co-supervision from Professor Frank Peters IPIC lead Principal Investigator and Professor at the Department of Physics, University College Cork and an Industrial Mentor from Rockley Photonics. There will be additional pastoral support from a Queen’s University Belfast Academic and from the CDT Management Team.
  • Mobility/Secondment: The student will undertake a secondment to the Rockley Photonics R&D site in Cork during their PhD. As student of CDT PIADS, there will also have the opportunity to use facilities at the Irish Photonic Integration Centre, Tyndall in Cork and at Queen’s University Belfast when required.
  • Project Brief: The main area of research for the PhD project will be semiconductor optical amplifiers (SOA). Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers (SOAs) are versatile components which can be used for amplification, switching and nonlinear signal processing either in discrete or integrated form. They are also used as gain elements in external cavity and Si-Photonics based lasers. The project will involve the development of SOA parameters related to output power, polarization dependence, waveguide integration, all-optical switching and gain clamping. For further information, please see references from Prof Kelly’s research group below.


How to Apply

  • Applications for places on the CDT PIADS programme should be submitted through the Direct Admissions Portal at Queen’s University Belfast. Once in the Direct Admissions Portal, you should click on My Applications and then New Application, you should select Postgraduate Research and then Select Maths & Physics, followed by Physics. You will then select PhD Photonic Integration and Advanced Data Storage. You should enter EPSRC CDT PIADS ROCKLEY PHOTONICS PHD as the research title and Prof Robert Bowman (the CDT PIADS Director) as the supervisor.



Nonlinear optics for high-speed digital information processing

Cotter, D., Manning, R.J., Blow, K.J., Ellis, A.D., Kelly, A.E., Nesset, D., Phillips, I.D., Poustie, A.J., Rogers, D.C.

(1999) Science, 286 (5444), pp. 1523-1528.

DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5444.1523

Recent advances in developing nonlinear optical techniques for processing serial digital information at high speed are reviewed. The field has been transformed by the advent of semiconductor nonlinear devices capable of operation at 100 gigabits per second and higher, well beyond the current speed limits of commercial electronics. These devices are expected to become important in future high-capacity communications networks by allowing digital regeneration and other processing functions to be performed on data signals `on the fly' in the optical domain.


Polarization-insensitive SOAs using strained bulk active regions

Michie, C., Kelly, A.E., McGeough, J., Armstrong, I., Andonovic, I., Tombling, C.

(2006) Journal of Lightwave Technology, 24 (11), pp. 3920-3927.

DOI: 10.1109/JLT.2006.883119

ABSTRACT: The polarization dependent gain (PDG) and its control is a key issue for semiconductor optical amplifier devices. For the case of a strained bulk active region with lateral tapers, an analysis of the parameters that affect PDG is performed, and the magnitude of its variation is calculated. The critical design parameters are thus identified, and the expected PDG variance is discussed in the context of typical fabrication tolerances. © 2006 IEEE.


High-performance semiconductor optical amplifier modules at 1300 nm

Kelly, A.E., Michie, C., Armstrong, I., Andonovic, I., Tombling, C., McGeough, J., Thomsen, B.C.

(2006) IEEE Photonics Technology Letters, 18 (24), pp. 2674-2676.

DOI: 10.1109/LPT.2006.887883

ABSTRACT: Semiconductor-based optical amplifiers (SOAs) offer solutions to a variety of amplification requirements covering operational wavelengths ranging from 600 to 1600 nm. This letter reports on the design and performance of buried heterostructure SOA modules exhibiting state-of-the-art performance within the 1300-nm operational window. The first, a high-gain variant, is optimized for preamplification applications while the second is designed for use as a booster amplifier. Record low noise figure performances for packaged devices are reported. © 2006 IEEE.


High-power AlGaInAs mode-locked DBR laser with integrated tapered optical amplifier

J Akbar, L Hou, M Haji, MJ Strain, JH Marsh, AC Bryce, AE Kelly

(2013) IEEE Photonics Technology Letters 25 (3), 253-256

DOI: 10.1109/LPT.2012.2231858

ABSTRACT: We demonstrate a high output power passively mode-locked distributed Bragg reflector laser with integrated tapered semiconductor optical amplifier, operating at 1.5 μ m. These devices are based on an optimized low-optical-confinement AlGaInAs/InP epitaxial material with a three quantum wells active region and a passive far-field reduction layer. The device generates nearly transform-limited pulses with minimum pulse duration of 4.3 ps at 40-GHz repetition rate. An average output power of 200 mW with a corresponding output peak power of > 1.2 W is achieved.


Monolithic adjustable gain-clamped semiconductor optical amplifier

J Akbar, OA Odedina, C Michie, I Andonovic, AE Kelly

(2013) Journal of Lightwave Technology 31 (16), 2723-2727

DOI: 10.1109/JLT.2013.2271790

ABSTRACT: We report a monolithic adjustable gain-clamped semiconductor optical amplifier (AGC-SOA). The device consists of two tunable gratings and a gain section and enables the gain of the SOA to be regulated without loss of saturated output power. Gain control is achieved by adjusting the wavelength overlap of two Distributed Bragg Reflector gratings positioned at either side of the active region which can be wavelength tuned by carrier injection. Gain clamped operation with adjustable gain over a range of 4 dB has been demonstrated. A maximum saturated output power of + 21 dBm was obtained.


Seagate Technology PhD projects 

There are three Seagate Technology PhD studentships on offer for September 2019. 

Successful applicants who decide to apply for these studentships will be offered to chose from a portfolio of available projects which suit their skill set and interests the most.

During the application process, use the title "EPSRC CDT PIADS Seagate PhD"

Doctoral degree


Student location during the research phase

Academic, either in Queen's University Belfast or the University of Glasgow (unlike the EngD)

Supervisory Team

Primary Academic, Industrial Supervisor and Secondary Academic (opposite institution)


Seagate Technology is the world leader in data storage technology and in their twenty-fifth year of operation at our Springtown site in Northern Ireland, where they undertake high volume manufacture and research and development (R&D) of the read/write head. The recording head is of critical importance in providing the increased data storage capacity demanded by society for personal and cloud-based storage. The Springtown facility is globally significant and is responsible for around 75% of the Company’s recording head manufacture as well as undertaking nearly 50% of the associated R&D. There is approximately 1400 staff on site with around 130 engaged in R&D.

Seagate Technology is actively involved in PhD sponsorship to support their R&D activities and the UK research base with long-standing relationships with Both Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Glasgow. Many of their graduates among engineering, R&D and management & leadership staff, both in NI and in the USA. 


Industrial PhD projects with Seagate will focus on the technological challenges associated with HAMR. HAMR technology also sets challenges for improving the magnetic data storage media and requires new production-compatible metrology. 

For 2019 there are three studentships to study on an industry aligned PhD based at either Queen’s University Belfast or the University of Glasgow with Seagate Technology. All projects may well involve interaction and collaboration with the Irish Photonic Integration Centre

Successful candidates will be able to choose the research direction from a portfolio of projects in the areas of;

  • Design of ultra high confinement (<20nm) heat spots
  • Design plasmonic near field transducer structures with reduced heat spot curvature
  • Optimal wavelength for low operation temperature plasmonic near field antennae
  • Alternate plasmonic material fabrication and characterisation
  • 2D plasmonic material evaluation and characterisation
  • Atomistic simulation of plasmonic materials 
  • Advanced solid state lasers design and fabrication e.g. ultrahigh wall plug efficiency, folded cavity, low beam divergence, burn-in free lasers, nanowire lasers, plasmonic lasers
  • Design and Fabrication of Advanced Integrated Photonics systems e.g. integrated optical couplers, thermal management systems, optical feedback control, optical switching systems
  • Advanced spintronic devices and antiferromagnetic materials for magnetoresistive sensors
  • Magnetic holography
  • All optical switching in magnetic materials
Seagate Mentor & Student Quarterly Meetings Seagate Mentor & Student Quarterly Meetings

Students on Seagate Industry-aligned PhD Projects benefit from a quarterly face-to-face meeting on site at Springtown to discuss the progression of their research and gain support from their industrial mentor.