High-Precision Laser-Based Manufacturing

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PhD Projects:

Beam-Shaping for High-Precision High-Speed Laser-Based Manufacturing

Supervisor: Ben Mills
Co-Supervisor: Dan Heath

Lasers have fundamentally transformed manufacturing in the past decades, and they are now routinely used for the machining of almost all size scales from micro-scale medical devices to battleships. However, the laser beam shape is generally not changed during machining.

Through use of a digital micromirror device (DMD), which we use as a spatial light modulator, we are able to change the spatial intensity profile and energy of every single laser pulse, for laser repetition rates up to 30 kHz. By imaging each shaped pulse onto a target sample, we are able to rapidly fabricate extremely precise structures over cm-squared regions, hence enabling new paradigms in high-precision high-speed laser-based manufacturing.

We are developing new methods for light manipulation, such as adaptive algorithms based on field propagation, for applications for both additive and subtractive manufacturing, including the development of a subwavelength-resolution 3D laser-printer, substrates that control differentiation pathways of stem-cells for regenerative medicine, and bespoke sensors for aerospace and power generation.

Harnessing laser technology for 3D implant design, stem cell function and bone regeneration

Supervisor: Ben Mills
Co-Supervisor: Prof Richard Oreffo

Stem cells are a key component for enabling regenerative medicine, with the potential to differentiate into many other cell types, based on cues within the body. We have already shown the importance of the physical environment, specifically nanoscale topography, on musculoskeletal stem cell fate and function. However, current fabrication techniques do not readily offer the potential to scale-up to 3D surfaces. We believe the breakthrough needed for 3D surface nanoscale patterning will be achieved using state-of-the-art laser machining.

The project will develop appropriate nanotopography approaches on a range of materials to enable clinically relevant implants for orthopaedic application. The candidate will develop and evaluate a range of high-speed high-precision laser-based manufacturing and cell-growth processes. Further exciting prospects include designs for other musculoskeletal applications.

The ideal candidate will have a strong desire to gain expertise at the interface of high-precision laser-machining and regenerative medicine. Full training and support, and access to world-leading facilities, will be provided.

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