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Research interests

Tenure Track Research Fellow, Heriot-Watt University

Dr Michael Tanner is a Tenure Track Research Fellow in Biomedical Photonics at Heriot-Watt University and honorary lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, working with the EPSRC Proteus IRC. He is currently establishing a research group to exploit time resolved single photon technologies and optical fibre sensors for clinical/biomedical photonics and other real world applications, with strong links to Robert Thomson and the Photonic Instrumentation group.

He has a desire to bring the most advanced photonic technologies out of the darkened physics lab and into practical application. As a physicist with wide ranging experience in experimental systems, fibre optics, quantum technologies and fibre sensing he has developed advanced optical systems on site at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (QMRI).

Michael has a track record in developing quantum technologies. Initially designing silicon chips for quantum information processing at the Hitachi Cambridge Laboratory and The University of Cambridge, he moved to quantum optics and single photon detector technologies with the Quantum Sensors group at Heriot-Watt University and The University of Glasgow. While developing cutting edge quantum optics experiments and new secure optical communication technologies, he applied photon counting technologies to real world sensing problems. These included time of flight depth imaging, singlet oxygen fluorescence measurements for photodynamic therapy in cancer treatment and primary temperature measurement with optic fibre. Now he applies single photon detector arrays for medical sensing, imaging and diagnosis with a focus on practical systems for translation to clinic or elsewhere.


Informal news updates can be found at https://tanner-lab.org/


Roles & Responsibilities

Dr Tanner teaches in the Physics department:
-course leader for B29SS Solid State Physics (3rd year), in collaboration with Dr Chen
-B27TB Investigative Techniques 2 (1st year practical laboratories), led by Prof. Thomson

Research Group Contact Details

David Brewster Building, DB1.11,
Heriot-Watt University,
Edinburgh, EH14 4AS
+44 (0)131 451 3067
Room E232, QMRI,
The University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh, EH16 4TJ


Tenure Track Research Fellow, Heriot-Watt University

Michael completed his PhD at Cambridge University, in the Microelectronics Research Centre, in collaboration with the Hitachi Cambridge Laboratory
He continued his work as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Hitachi, investigating the excitation structure of Isolated Double Quantum Dots (IDQDs), or “artificial molecules”.
Later he expanded into the field of quantum optics, moving to Heriot-Watt University to work with Prof. Robert Hadfield on Superconducting Nanowire Single Photon Detectors (SNSPDs) and integrated quantum optical circuits.
Michael helped to guide and grow the research group moving with it to the University of Glasgow as a Research Fellow within the Quantum Sensors Group.
He joined the EPSRC Proteus IRC as a Research Fellow to grow optical medical device design at the QMRI, University of Edinburgh.
Recently he gained an academic position within IPAQS at Heriot-Watt University linked to the Photonic Instrumentation group.


Expertise related to UN SDGs

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


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