Adaptive Optics and Wavefront Metrology
- Programme type: Research
- Study location:
Adaptive Optics (AO) is a technique for real-time manipulation of the properties of optical systems. AO has found widespread application in astronomy. However, our main interest in this relatively new technique is for applications in industrial and bio-medical areas.
An important aspect of the operation of an AO system is the ability quickly and accurately to determine the shape of an optical wavefront. We use a technique called 'phase-diversity' to measure the wavefront shape. In essence, phase-diverse measurements use the intensity variations produced when a distorted wavefront propagates a long distance. Similar variations of intensity are produced on the floor on a swimming pool. In this case the intensity patterns are produced by the distortions due to the shape of the air-water interface.
We design distorted diffraction gratings that simulate the effects of long propagation distances in a short instrument. These gratings can be manufactured by the diffractive optics group here and have allowed us to make measurements of the wavefront shape to a current best precision of ~0.7nm in wavefront curvature by a simple, robust and non-interferometric method.
Future work is directed to improve further the accuracy of these measurements and to use the technique in a wide variety of commercial and fundamental research applications. The work is supported by a substantial research grant from the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council through the Smart Optics Faraday Partnership.
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English language requirements
If your first language is not English, or your first degree was not taught in English, we’ll need to see evidence of your English language ability. The minimum requirement for English language is IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. We offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your masters programme:
- 2 semesters English (for IELTS of 4.5-5.0);
- 12 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5);
- 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5*-6.0). (*minimum 5.5 reading and writing)
Fees for this programme can be found on our Tuition fees page.
Scholarships & bursaries
Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan
International (Commonwealth citizens)
Commonwealth Scholarships Scheme
Candidates from developed Commonwealth countries (see below)
EPS PG Research Scholarships
All PG research applicants
East Lothian Educational Trust
Applicants must be a resident of the old county of East Lothian (ie excluding Musselburgh, Wallyford and Whitecraig.)
Entente Cordiale Scholarships
French nationals aged 35 or under.
James Watt Fees Scholarships
All UK/EU applicants
Leverhulme Trade Charities Trust
Restricted to residents of the UK who are a son, daughter, spouse, widow or widower of a commercial traveller, chemist or grocer.
MASTS (Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland) Prize Studentships
Students with suitable qualifications and a project proposal as outlined on the MASTS website
Remission of Fees (families of staff)
Spouses/civil partners and children of members of staff, also retired members of staff of the University
SUPA Prize Studentships
Students with a PhD proposal in Physics
Scotland's Saltire Scholarships
Citizens of Canada, the People's Republic of China, India or USA (2 awards for each country)
Employees of Heriot-Watt University
West Lothian Educational Trust
Individuals must have originated in West Lothian or have lived there for the last 3 years.