PhD opportunities

City University London will be offering  some PhD positions with funding for exceptional students (see below). If there is an interest in applying to do PhD with me, please get in touch to discuss.

What is Offered

A doctoral studentship will provide:

  • An annual bursary (£16,000 in 2016/17)
  • The full tuition fee for UK and EU students. This award is for 3 years subject to ongoing excellent performance by the student. Applications are welcome from overseas applicants but the applicant must make appropriate arrangements to cover the difference between the overseas and UK tuition fee.


The studentships will be awarded on the basis of outstanding academic achievement and the potential to produce cutting edge-research.

  • Applicants must hold at least a 2.1 honours degree or merit level Masters degree in a relevant subject (or international equivalent)
  • Applicants whose first language is not English must have achieved at least 6.5 in IELTS or a recognised equivalent
  • Applicants must not be currently registered as a doctoral student at City University London or any other academic institution.

 How to Apply

Applications must consist of: a research degree application form , 3 page research proposal (the proposal must clearly identify the first (Category A) and second supervisor (Category A or B)), proof of academic qualifications, applicants CV, proof of English language proficiency (if the applicant’s first language is not English) and two confidential references (one of which must be an academic reference).

The above documents should be compiled into a single document and submitted to (Naina and Nathalie) by the 26th May 2016.

Selection Panel

A panel will be put in place to select the students immediately after May 26th. The panel will comprise the Dean, Associate Dean Research and a selection of staff (TBC) from across the School.

By artiagrawal Posted in General

Some more non-linearity

In recent times I have focused my blogposts on events that I attended.

Today I feel some pleasure in going back to writing a bit about my research.

In a recent journal article that we published we explored how an ultra broadband Supercontinuum in the mid Infra Red part of spectrum can be efficiently generated in spiral chalcogenide PCF.

We showed by numerical simulations an SCG spectra that spanned more than 3 Octave from 1.3-11 micron and beyond. The difficulties in generating SCG in these wavelength regimes include lack of sources at appropriate pump wavelengths, such sources of sufficiently high power, as well as waveguides that have zero and flat dispersion near the pump.

With the Equiangular Spiral PCF,  it is possible to modify both the dispersion (making it flat and close to zero @ the choice of pump wavelength)  as well as have a well confined modal field with large non-linearity.

What this work offers along with Disperison and nonlinearity control is the additional control of absorption: possibility  of a cladding  made of the same material as the core (only airholes are introduced for guidance) which overcomes the problem of absorption seen in other proposed/fabricated planar waveguide and step index chalcogenide based designs.

It goes without saying that the results were exhilarating and I now look forward to taking this work further, preferably with someone who can fabricate and test the design!

So if you want to collaborate do get in touch!

Optics and exhibitions

Recently I visited two exhibitions and both have completely blown my mind.

The first was the Cosmonauts exhibition at the science museum in London  and the second was the Phillips collection where I  had the opportunity to see the Paul Allen


Poster from the Cosmonauts exhibition

collection in  Washington DC.

So about Cosmonauts first:  the exhibition tells the story of Soviet Russia’s foray into space and how it put the first man-made objects, landed them on other planets and launch the first man into space.  Imagine seeing the space suit worn by Valentina Tereshkova the first woman in space!  It was a stunning experience as well as a very moving one.

There was a letter there from a young girl who asked the soviet space agency to send her to the moon because she had the appropriate fur coat and boots!  She said that she was willing to die but would they please please send her!

This passion for space and exploration is not new and the exhibition showed the excitement generated the world over when  when the Gagarin went into space.


Poster from the Cosmonauts exhibition

What does this have to do with optics?

Well if you’ve seen the new photographs from Pluto they completely break apart the theories that we have about planets.  How can a planet that is not in geologically active have mountains?

The roll that optics has to play in all this is  is opening our eyes to new wavelengths-  enabling us to observe the world in frequencies that we haven’t been able to do so before  as effectively as we can now.  With the new sources and detectors in the IR and far IR we should be able to detect signs of life potentially!

So with optics to the stars then!  And this time we can possibly travel there too.

And now about the Paul Allen collection: at the OSA  winter leadership meeting there was a reception held at the Phillips collection,  and I’ll gallery in D.C.  The Paul Allen collection on landscape painting with charted how landscape painting has changed over 400 hundred years was being shown.

The sumptuous  collection of Monets, Manets, Signacs, even a Matisse and Kandinsky, a surreal Magritte were simply fabulous! Unfortunately i could not take photographs of these and post them here.

Optics took me to DC and it was optics that give me the opportunity to see these masterpieces.  Not to mention that there was the visual optical process of actually looking at these paintings.

Overall I would say optics is a win-win! I had a fabulous time and I hope you can  experience what Art other sciences bring in conjunction with optics in to our lives.


Opportunities for research in London

There are some exciting opportunities for undergraduate , postgraduate and post-doctoral level work (research) to come to London. Monthly stipend and return airfare is included!

Partners from Delhi, Bangladesh, Shanghai and more read on…

Students from partner universities can apply for these UG/PG/PostDoc/Staff levels

  1. Deadline 23 December
  2. Deadline 3 January

I would be happy to act as host and agree a research programme. Get in touch!

Partner institutions for 1 are:

United International University – JOINT COORDINATOR
Info sheet
Academic offer
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology
Info sheet
Academic offer
Khulna University of Engineering and Technology
Info sheet
Academic offer
National University of Science and Technology
Info sheet
Academic offer
Mehran University of Engineering and Technology
Info sheet
Academic offer
Kathmandu University
Info sheet
Academic offer
Royal University of Bhutan
Info sheet
Academic offer
Information and Communication Technology Institute
Info sheet
Academic offer
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
Info sheet
Academic offer
University of Calcutta
Info sheet
Academic offer
Bangkok University
Info sheet
Academic offer
Multimedia University
Info sheet
Academic offer
Universitas Pelita Harapan
Info sheet
Academic offer

Partner institutions for 2 are:

Asian Partners

United International University United International University Fact Sheet
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology Fact Sheet
BRAC University BRAC University Fact Sheet
National University of Science and Technology National University of Science and Technology Fact Sheet
Mehran University of Engineering and Technology Mehran University of Engineering and Technology Fact Sheet
Kathmandu University Kathmandu University Fact Sheet
Royal University of Bhutan Royal University
of Bhutan
Fact Sheet
Kabul University Kabul University Fact Sheet
University of Delhi University of Delhi Fact Sheet
Southeast University Southeast University Fact Sheet
University of Malaya University of Malaya Fact Sheet
Bangkok University Bangkok University Fact Sheet
Institut Teknologi Bandung Institut Teknologi
Fact Sheet

Fun, Games and Teaching

Recently in my first year Physics class I posed a problem to my students:

What is the most efficient way of determining if a given point lies inside a given polygon?

At the end of the context, I give the code my students sent me. And a game one of them created!!!

This is a real and living research problem. For me the context  is this: in the Finite Element mesh I construct, sometimes we want to move one of the nodes in a mesh element so that the photonic structure/boundary is better represented. The trouble is determining which node to move out of all the nodes in the element. Since you may have to do this for a large mesh with close to 100,000 elements, it must be fast, accurate and reliable.

So the students sent me this:

  1. Python code (by Riad Ibadulla) :

n=int(input(“Enter the size of polygon: “))
print(“Enter the coordinates of polygon: “)
for i in range(n):
print(“Enter the coordiantes of the point: “)
for i in range(n):
if z>0:
if j==n:
print(“belongs to polygon”)
print(“out of the polygon”)

2. A game, Galactic Waste Man (by Kenneth Evbuomwan) that uses logic that is central to the problem posed. The code is available here: GameController.

So can your algorithm match/beat what my first years have done?


A different kind of pride

Usually my blogposts here are about topics thaWP_20151029_18_17_34_Prot interest me (on Science, policy, equality and diversity etc.) and my own research.

Today I feel especially proud writing about my PhD student, Swetha. Swetha entered the UK ICT Pioneers competition of the EPSRC  in the information overload category. She  made a short film about her research work, which took her to the finals of the competition and was amongst only 15 chosen, with only 4 including her in her category. There she presented her work on a poster and explained it to a rather tough panel of judges drawn from EPSRC, companies like Hewlett Packard, Samsung and Facebook.

As a student only in her first year of PhD she was the youngest (in research age and stage of PhD). So this was a huge achievement. It has also spurred her onto believe in her own merit and that she can do great Science.

It was a lovely experience for me as a supervisor to attend the awards night and see my student feted and acknowledged.

Academia is a strange life: for a very long time we work hard to reach the lowest rung of this ladder (10+ years of study to finish postdoc and get a first faculty position in many cases). We are regarded  as junior for so long that it is often not till much later when we supervise PhD students that the realization of the end of our student days dawns upon us.

Having one’s own students do well is the best possible way to realize I am no longer a student!! So my thanks to Swetha.


Nature’s paint palette

I wrote some time ago about structural colour.

More now on that theme.

Some creatures, such as butterflies of the Papilio genus, have sculpted multilayers on their scales: that is they have 2d shapes (for example,like golf balls or dimples) in arrays that maybe interlinked.

Light reflecting off the bottom of the depression (which acts as a 1D structure) is of a different wavelength (and hence colour, say yellow) to that reflecting off the walls (also acting as a 1d structure), say blue. At a far distance the two colours, yellow and blue seem to mix and give the impression that the wings are green!

Another very neat example of structural colour!

Sunday at IEEE Photonics Conference

As I arrived slightly jet lagged and tired for the IEEE Photonics Conference (IPC) I was also a little disgruntled that my favourite shoe shop was far from the hotel.

Not a good start I thought.

But all the cobwebs and irritation was blown away.

The Photonics Pro Training session was mindblowing!

The first talk by Elizabeth Lions on leadership made me ask my self what leadership meant to me, why I or anyone wants to be a leader and how to go about leading. The second talk by Prof. Ben Eggleton carried forward with the theme of leadership and he talked about his career path, the challenges he faced and how he achieved his success.

The IEEE Photonics Society plans to have more such sessions on career development in future conferences to help students and young professionals in the field to gain skills they need to succeed. Judging by the number of people in the room and the age distribution, it seems it is not only young people who want such discussions!

This session was followed by a Women in Photonics panel, where 5 women from diverse research areas, form industry and academia, talked about their career paths. They answered questions from the audience and in a very frank and honest manner gave their take on how to be successful and overcome the challenges they faced. These included hilarious things like a career advisor showing detailed reports to a panelists’s parents on how few women succeed in Science and Engineering to deter her from continuing her studies as an engineer!

Their 5 word advice to young people was:

  • don’t the sweat the small stuff
  • don’t give up
  • follow your passion
  • don’t be hard on yourself
  • believe in yourself

It was interesting that almost all the panelists’s parents had wanted them to be doctors and their choice of Photonics was unexpected to their families.

I am looking forward to Monday now!

Optical illusions, lighting and art

I had a great time yesterday visiting Chain Reaction,a  show at the Kircaldy’s Testing Museum.

The show brought together engineers and artists to put together an interactive display. By clever lighting and use of their signature technique which blends music, light, sound etc. a sense of movement with which the observor could interact was created.

There were exhibits for example, of a swinging chain. When the observor puts her/his hand in a metal ring (breaking the LED light beam that a sensor can sense) the lighting stops so the chain seems to stop swinging. Similarly falling blocks that break, can be stopped or seemingly frozen in mid air by breaking the light path between an LED source and sensor. the accompanying music that mimics the sounds of things falling and shattering (in the case of the blocks) or the swinging chain make the effects very realistic. You actually feel there is a chain swinging towards you!

It challenges perception and the technique of creating such an exhibit is quite exciting. I won’t spoil the fun, look it up at the Trope website!

Art, light and the Serpentine

Every year since 2000 the Serpentine Galleries host a summer pavilion by celebrated architects who have not worked/displayed in UK before. Serpentine Pavilions a pictorial history

This free to the public event is immensely and is a terrific way to see some high quality design and interplay of ideas that bring together architecture, design, art, science.

The 2015 pavilion by the Spanish practice, Selgasgno, have created a colourful pavilion using Fluorine coated polymer which seems to have an iridescent colour and appearance. These effects are obviously interferance as opposed to structural colour  related. Unfortunately the pavilion wasn’t open beyond 6pm for me to see how the effect changes when the lighting is not so bright, or is Sodium lighting. To me the whole thing felt a bit like a low budget sci-fi movie set so I was a bit disappointed.

Iridescent colour of the polymer film

Though the pavilion tries to explore in the words of Selgacgno “public to experience architecture through simple elements: structure, light, transparency, shadows, lightness, form, sensitivity, change, surprise, colour and materials”, it seemed like the understanding of light is still somewhat non technical.

What technical understanding of light would bring and how, I am unable to say. But I do know that it would be lovely to see it being used to being about a true melding of art, design and the Science of light.

Nonetheless I enjoyed my visit and this series of new summer pavilion each year is something very much worth visiting!