1984 …2023

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Personal profile

Research interests

Robert Maier’s research has been directed at the application of fibre optic sensing technology in engineering. 

Although Robert retired in 2017, he retains and active interest in research and maintains close connections with his former colleagues and students and assits in the supervison of several PhD students  

Fibre optic sensors have a number of unique capabilities such as the ability to carry out distributed sensing over length ranges from mm to 100’s of km. They are immune to electromagnetic environments and if used in a wavelength encoded manner are easily calibrated and traceable to fundamental standards.  In Roberts research many of these capabilities are exploited to provide sensing capabilities in new and exciting fields. 

His current and recent research has led to the development of embedment technologies to enable fibre optic strain and temperature sensing from within additively mnanufactured components (by SLM and LMD) in stainless steel for application at very high temepratures of up to 900oC.  The sensors comprise fibre Bragg gratings and especially Fabry-Perot based sensors which have been shown to be thermally stable over extended periods of months at temperatures of up to 850oC.   

As part of this research,  Robert also investigated the properties of 3D printing technologies for metals to improve their performance and structural integrity and dimensional accuracy. 

Laser based manufacturing including 3D printing, especially of glass and ceramic materials for the generation of micro structured componets and devices complement his research activities in the area of High Power Laser Applications. 

One particular aim of this activity is to develop artifical porous materials in glasses to simulate rock for investigations of flow characteristics in micro porous media with integrated sensors to study reactivity and processes at the pore level.  This is an important aspect in the understanding of enhanced oil recovery (EOR), carbon capture and storage (CCS) and the protection of ground water resources.    


Robert Maier graduated Dipl.Ing.FH in 1980 in Feinwerktechnik. After a year as researcher at a clinic for nuclear medicine he joined the MPI for Quantum Optics as experimental officer. Here he developed his interest into laser technology, mass spectrometry and experimental instrumentation. In 1985 he joined Technolas Lasertechnik as R&D manager, developing excimer lasers for medical applications in ophthalmology). In 1987 he joined FORTH, the leading research institution in Crete to assist in building up their infrastructure and research facilities and to carry out research into LIBS of metal ores. He then moved on to Edinburgh University, Chemistry in 1988. where he continued research begun at FORTH. His main interests focused on laser based material analysis, photo electron spectroscopy, time of flight mass spectrometry, but in particular he worked on MALDI, molecular beam instrumentation and optical spectroscopy. 1998 he joined the Physics department (now Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences)  at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh where he is currently a Research Fellow working on fibre optic sensor technology in engineering applications and high power laser applications . In 2006 he was awarded a PhD in Physics on "Application of Fibre Bragg Gratings in Sensor Technology".  Robert is also an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering, teaching "Specialist Manufacturing Technologies", "Design and Manufacture" and "Automotive technology".  

His research focuses on optical sensor technology for physical measurements, the application of FBGs in sensor systems and the use of absolute interferometric distance sensing for engineering applications. Environmental sensing, especially fibre optic based hydrogen sensing, is another corner stone of his activities. More recently he also restarted research in high power laser applications for precision machining and engineering applications.

During Summer semester 2012 he was invited to the Munich University for Applied Sciences [MUAS] as a visiting Professor on a Fellowship, At MUAS he taught a course on Optoelectronic Instrumentation and collaborates with Johannes Roths on high temperature compatible fibre Bragg gratings. He is also a Fellow of MUAS.

In August 2017 Robert moved on into partial retirement and is currently an Honorary Assitant Professor.  He maintains his connections with the active research portfolio of the School and Institute (IPaQS) and continues to supervise and guide his current PhD students to their completion. 

Robert is an expert evaluator and reviewer for European research proposals submitted to H2020 and related programs and is a regular attendant at EURAMET (EMPIR) program review conferences 

Roles & Responsibilities

Roles & Responsibilities

Robert has been the Bussines Manager of the Strategic Alliance between Heriot-Waytt University and AWE plc. until his retirement in 2017 and is supporting his sucessor Dr Richard Carter .  

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

External positions

Munich University of Applied Sciences

1 Mar 201231 Jul 2012


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