Rendering the Opaque Transparent: Unscrambling Light to See Through Scattering Environments - Physics - EPSRC DTP funded PhD Studentship Ref: 2947

About the award

This project is one of a number funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Doctoral Training Partnership to commence in September 2018. This project is in direct competition with others for funding; the projects which receive the best applicants will be awarded the funding.

The studentships will provide funding for a stipend which is currently £14,553 per annum for 2017-2018. It will provide research costs and UK/EU tuition fees at Research Council UK rates for 42 months (3.5 years) for full-time students, pro rata for part-time students.

Please note that of the total number of projects within the competition, up to 15 studentships will be filled.

Dr David Phillips
Dr Simon Horsley

Streatham Campus, Exeter

Project Description
Imagine looking through a frosted glass window: the scene on the other side is distorted and the detail cannot be perceived. Now hold up a second piece of frosted glass in front of the first - suddenly you can see clearly through both as if they were transparent. This second piece of frosted glass doesn’t currently exist. The aim of this project is to design and build it.

When light propagates through an opaque material, such as a frosted glass window, a multi-mode optical fibre or living tissue, it scatters multiple times. This scattering scrambles any spatial information the light carries, preventing the formation of images of objects behind (or inside) the scattering system. Only relatively recently has it been shown that although highly complex, it is possible to use digital light shaping technology to measure and reverse the scattering, enabling reconstruction of near-perfect images of the scene behind the frosted glass window. This capability promises more than simply looking through frosted glass: it heralds a range of powerful new applications to the fields of in vivo imaging, microscopy and discrete surveillance (e.g. looking around corners), enabling systems capable of imaging in situations previously intractable.

In this project we will design and build devices that manipulate light in new ways, and apply them to a range of new kinds of next generation imaging systems. This project is a 3.5 year long EPSRC funded PhD studentship. The project will involve laboratory-based experiments using lasers, liquid crystal displays and fast cameras. It will also involve programming these devices to work together. This project will suit a highly motivated student who is keen to develop their experimental and programming skills (e.g. LabVIEW, Matlab, Python). There is also a theoretical element to the project, which the student will be able to expand if interested. There will also be the opportunity to travel to international conferences and to work with collaborators on mainland Europe.

Entry Requirements
The majority of the studentships are available for applicants who are ordinarily resident in the UK and are classed as UK/EU for tuition fee purposes.  If you have not resided in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship, you are not eligible for a maintenance allowance so you would need an alternative source of funding for living costs. To be eligible for fees-only funding you must be ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU.  For information on EPSRC residency criteria click here.

Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are NOT eligible for funding. International students interested in studying at the University of Exeter should search our funding database for alternative options.


Application deadline:10th January 2018
Value:3.5 year studentship: UK/EU tuition fees and an annual maintenance allowance at current Research Council rate. Current rate of £14,553 per year.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Doctoral

How to apply

You will be required to upload the following documents:
•       CV
•       Letter of application outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to
        undertake the project.
•       Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained.  This should be an interim
        transcript if you are still studying.
•       If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your current
        proficiency in English.  For further details of the University’s English language requirements please see

The closing date for applications is midnight (GMT) on Wednesday 10 January 2018.  Interviews will be held at the University of Exeter in late February 2018.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email:
Project-specific queries should be directed to the supervisor.

During the application process, the University may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates.  These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

• the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
• administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.

Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.