If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Research interests

Robert’s current research interests are centred on the technology and applications of ultrafast laser inscription. In June 2010 he began a 5 year STFC Advanced fellowship aimed at the “Astrophotonic applications of ultrafast laser inscription”. The aim of this fellowship is to use the unique fabrication capabilities of ultrafast laser inscription to develop novel photonic instrumentation for astronomy. Examples of such devices include 3D integrated beam combiners for exoplanet imaging and integrated photonic lanterns for multimode-to-single mode conversion.   In relation to the astrophotonics side of Robert’s research, he collaborates closely with many groups around the world and the UK. This includes the University of Sydney, the Institut de Planetologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble, the University of Bath, Durham University and the UK-Astronomy Technology Centre. Within the department, Robert also collaborates closely with a number of the other faculty, including Prof. Ajoy K. Kar (Head of Nonlinear Optics group), Prof. Derryck T. Reid (Head of Ultrafast optics Group), Dr. Robert Hadfield (Head of the Superconducting Detector Group) and Dr Lynn Paterson (Head of the Biophotonics group).


Robert R. Thomson was awarded the BSc in Physics (1st Class Honours) from Heriot Watt University (HWU) in 2000, the MSc in Optoelectronics and Laser Devices from the University of St Andrews in 2001 (a course jointly run with HWU) and the PhD in the Physics from HWU in 2006.


Robert Thomson is an STFC Advanced Fellow and Lecturer in the newly formed Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences at Heriot-Watt University. He has > 10 years experience in photonics, and > 6 years of experience in the specific field of Ultrafast Laser Inscription (ULI). He has authored two invited book chapters on ULI, and has published > 35 journal papers (including ~30 on ULI) attracting > 400 citations in total. He currently organises the highly succesful Edinburgh series of IOP lectures and serves as the Secretary of the Scottish chapter of the IEEE Photonics Society. Robert is also a Co-founder of Optoscribe - a high-tech spin-out from Heriot-Watt in the Ultrafast Laser Inscription area.


Roles & Responsibilities


  • QC Physics
  • photonics

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

  • 9 Similar Profiles
waveguides Physics & Astronomy
lasers Physics & Astronomy
photonics Physics & Astronomy
glass Physics & Astronomy
Ultrafast lasers Engineering & Materials Science
fibers Physics & Astronomy
Photonics Engineering & Materials Science
optical waveguides Physics & Astronomy

Co Author Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2005 2019

High-speed dual color fluorescence lifetime endomicroscopy for highly-multiplexed pulmonary diagnostic applications and detection of labeled bacteria

Pedretti, E., Tanner, M. G., Choudhary, T. R., Krstajić, N., Megia-Fernandez, A., Henderson, R. K., Bradley, M., Thomson, R. R., Girkin, J. M., Dhaliwal, K. & Dalgarno, P. A., 1 Jan 2019, In : Biomedical Optics Express. 10, 1, p. 181-195 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
high speed
life (durability)

Demonstration and characterization of ultrafast laser-inscribed mid-infrared waveguides in chalcogenide glass IG2

Butcher, H. L., MacLachlan, D. G., Lee, D., Thomson, R. R. & Weidmann, D., 16 Apr 2018, In : Optics Express. 26, 8, p. 10930-10943 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

Early arriving photon imaging for locating optical endomicroscopy fibres and medical devices

Tanner, M. G., Henderson, R. K., Dhaliwal, K. & Thomson, R. R., Sep 2018

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

optical fibers

Early arriving photon imaging for locating optical endomicroscopy fibres and medical devices (Conference Presentation)

Tanner, M. G., Choudhary, T. R., Craven, T. H., Mills, B., Bradley, M., Henderson, R. K., Dhaliwal, K. & Thomson, R. R., 24 May 2018

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther

Experimental observation of Aharonov-Bohm cages in photonic lattices

Mukherjee, S., Di Liberto, M., Ohberg, P., Thomson, R. R. & Goldman, N., 16 Aug 2018, In : Physical Review Letters. 121, 7, 075502

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

Open Access
magnetic flux