Heriot-Watt University

Pioneering photonics with global impact

World-class laser and photonics technology in complex manufacturing, from healthcare and communications to national defence.

For over 50 years, Heriot-Watt University has advanced photonics technology through ground-breaking research and innovation. Playing a pioneering and substantive role in industry and society, the technologies have achieved global application and impact.

Its metrology technology is applied to large-scale manufacturing globally, and the ultrafast laser techniques have enabled previously unachievable processes like welding metals to glass. In medicine, the university’s Medical Device Manufacturing Centre supports small companies in accelerating new products to market, including the first ‘made in Scotland’ 3D printed swabs for COVID-19 testing. The collaborative ‘Proteus’ project delivers optical biopsy at the bedside for intensive care. The university’s quantum technology enables imaging through turbid media and ‘around corners’; its optical fibre sensors provide critical information in support of the UK’s national defence and the university plays a key role in the UK’s Quantum Communications Hub, contributing quantum key distribution and new secure protocols.

Working alongside industry and business and supporting student programmes, Heriot-Watt’s research has delivered practical and economic benefits across manufacturing, medicine, communications, imaging and sensing.