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Personal profile

Research interests

Duncan's research is focused on applications of high power lasers in manufacturing and in medicine. He is Director of the £3.2M 4-University Medical Device Manufacturing Centre, and PI of 3 current EPSRC grants (total funding £2.5M): (i) Platform Grant on Manufacturing of Medical Devices; (ii) 3D printing of shape memory alloys for medical applications; (iii) Ultra-short pulsed laser welding for bonding IR and visible optical materials.  He is also involved in ERC-funded work on laser-based manufacture of micro-fluidic devices to simulate porous media for application in Carbon Capture and Storage; and is co-Investigator of 4 current EPSRC grants (i) to develop minimally-invasive laser-based surgery for treatment of early stage colon cancer; (ii) 'Mechanically-intelligent'' Intra-operative Tissue Assessment for Robot-Assisted Surgery (MIRAS); (iii) U-CARE Deep UV light therapies; (iv) 3D laser beam shaping for manufacturing.

Current industrial collaborators include Renishaw, Leonardo, Oxford Lasers, Coherent Scotland, SPI Lasers, AWE, MAN Energy Systems, MBDA, TRD Surfaces, Gooch & Housego, Luxinar, NSG, GTS.


Duncan graduated from the University of St Andrews in 1986 with a BSc in Physics with Electronics, and from the University of Southampton (Optical Fibre Group) in 1991 with a PhD.  In 1991 he moved to Heriot-Watt University, initially employed as a Research Associate. In 1997 he was appointed Lecturer in Physics and subsequently promoted to Reader (2001) and Professor of Applied Photonics (2003).  He has held a range of additional appointments, as Director of the Photonics EngD Centre (2001 - 2007); Director of Postgraduate Research (2001 - 2007); Head of Physics (2007 - 2011); Acting Head of School (2011); Director of Research (2012 - 2015); Acting Deputy Principal (Pro-VC) Research (2015-2016); Deputy Head of School (2012-2020); Acting Head of School (2021-2022) and again as Deputy Head of School (2022).

Roles & Responsibilities

Duncan is currently Deputy Head of School of Engineering and Physical Sciences and Director of the Medical Device Manufacturing Centre

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water


  • QC Physics
  • laser
  • photonics
  • manufacturing
  • medical
  • optics


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