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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 Dive into the research topics where Robert R. Thomson is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

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waveguides Physics & Astronomy
lasers Physics & Astronomy
photonics Physics & Astronomy
glass Physics & Astronomy
Photonics Chemical Compounds
Ultrafast lasers Chemical Compounds
fibers Physics & Astronomy
waveguide lasers Physics & Astronomy

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

Research Output 2005 2019

A focal-ratio-degradation (FRD) resistant multimode fibre link using mode-selective photonic lanterns

Benoît, A., Yerolatsitis, S., Harrington, K., Birks, T. A. & Thomson, R. R., 17 Oct 2019, 2019 Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics Europe and European Quantum Electronics Conference (CLEO/Europe-EQEC). IEEE, 8872561

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Multimode fibers
Optical fibers

Characterising cross-coupling in coherent fibre bundles

Parker, H. E., Perperidis, A., Karam-Eldaly, A., Altmann, Y., Dhaliwal, K., Thomson, R. R., McLaughlin, S. & Tanner, M. G., 22 Jul 2019, Advances in Microscopic Imaging II. Beaurepaire, E. & Pavone, F. S. (eds.). SPIE, 110761D. (Proceedings of SPIE; vol. 11076).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Open Access
Medical imaging
Image reconstruction
Imaging techniques

Endoscopic sensing of distal lung physiology

Choudhury, D., Tanner, M. G., McAughtrie, S., Yu, F., Mills, B., Choudhary, T. R., Seth, S., Craven, T. H., Stone, J. M., Mati, I. K., Campbell, C. J., Bradley, M., Williams, C. K. I., Dhaliwal, K., Birks, T. A. & Thomson, R. R., 18 Mar 2019, In : Journal of Physics: Conference Series. 1151, conference 1, 012009.

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article

Open Access
Raman spectroscopy

Fibre-based spectral ratio endomicroscopy for contrast enhancement of bacterial imaging and pulmonary autofluorescence

Parker, H. E., Stone, J. M., Marshall, A. D. L., Choudhary, T. R., Thomson, R. R., Dhaliwal, K. & Tanner, M. G., 1 Apr 2019, In : Biomedical Optics Express. 10, 4, p. 1856-1869 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Optical Imaging
Optical Fibers
Optical Devices
Molecular Pathology

High fidelity fibre-based physiological sensing deep in tissue

Choudhary, T., Tanner, M. G., Megia-Fernandez, A., Harrington, K., Wood, H. A. C., Marshall, A., Zhu, P., Chankeshwara, S. V., Choudhury, D., Monro, G., Ucuncu, M., Yu, F., Duncan, R. R., Thomson, R. R., Dhaliwal, K. & Bradley, M., 22 May 2019, In : Scientific Reports. 9, 7713.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Silicon Dioxide