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Personal profile


Daniel Esser was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on February 22, 1978.  He obtained is Doctorate of Engineering in Photonics from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh end of 2010 while working full-time at the CSIR National Laser Centre since 2004.  He joined Heriot-Watt in 2013 as Professor in Laser Device Physics and Engineering. He is married to Professor Irene‑marie Esser and they have two sons.

Research interests

Prof Esser's research background include key demonstrations of Nd-doped systems for 1 µm operation (Nd:YLF and Nd:YVO4), Tm-doped systems at 1.9 µm (Tm:YLF, Tm:GdVO4) and Ho-doped lasers and amplifiers for high energy 2 µm operation (Ho:YLF, Ho:LuLF). These lasers could be applied to defence, remote sensing and industrial processes. In addition to his publication outputs, he was also co-author and principle investigator for a number of technology demonstrators developed during industry-focussed research projects.

Prof Esser is researching new materials, architectures and manufacturing methods of direct diode laser modules, diode-pumped solid-state lasers, as well as laser-based digital manufacturing. His group addresses the key challenges of power- and energy scaling of solid-state laser systems, focussing on high-brightness laser diodes, micro-optic beam shaping, thin-slab architectures and compact amplifier concepts. Novel manufacturing techniques, such as ultra-fast laser welding of glass-to-metal, autonomous robotic assembly and additive manufacturing are critically evaluated for their use and uptake in the design and manufacture of future industrial laser systems.

The experimental research is underpinned by mathematical modelling and simulation of the required laser device physics and engineering, which is also applicable to a wider range of laser systems.

His industry-focussed research is supported by EPSRC, Innovate UK, RAEng and industry partners Leonardo, Renishaw, Luxinar, PowerPhotonic and STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

PhD studentships and Post-Doctoral Research Associate positions are supported within these research themes.

Prof Daniel Esser has a relentless passion to see new technological developments in diode-pumped solid-state lasers to be adopted by industry.

Roles & Responsibilities

Principle Investigator: Heriot-Watt University & Leonardo & Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership Development of a Compact, High Power Mid-Infrared Slab Laser.



  • QC Physics
  • laser
  • photonics
  • laser development
  • optics
  • Manufacturing
  • Production Processes


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