Department of Engineering / Profiles / Prof. Tim Wilkinson

Department of Engineering

Prof. Tim Wilkinson


Tim Wilkinson

Professor of Photonic Engineering

Academic Division: Electrical Engineering

Telephone: +44 1223 7 48353



Research interests

Prof. Wilkinson has had a long term research interest into the applications of liquid crystal (LC) devices, holograms and related photonic applications.  One breakthrough made recently was in algorithms which lead to the commercialisation of holographic projectors.  This has lead to a highly successful company started by 3 of my students which won $26M USD.  Commercial development of holographic systems is still on-going and I am looking into the design of next generation LC devices suitable for 3D holographic displays.  The use of holograms has also been used for telecoms to demonstrate modal control and full mode characterisation in multimode fibres.  Core to my research has been liquid crystal device fabrication and the search for the optimal materials for different applications.  One of the holy grails that has eluded us so far is the fast elector-optical effect suitable to modulate the phase of the light at rates < 1mSec.  Recent research highlights:

  • holographically controlled modal dispersion and MIMO using mode group multiplexing
  • The quest for fast multilevel phase modulators
  • Reconfigurable microlenses based on carbon nanotube and graphene electrodes in LCs
  • Growth of patterned CNT arrays on quartz and with < 500nm spacings
  • An integral imaging 3D microscope with LC/CNT tuneable lenses
  • CNT based metamaterials, Fresnel optics and holograms
  • Fabrication of fully RGB tuneable and printable LC lasers

My research has pioneered hybrid LC/CNT (carbon nanotube) technology, including design and fabrication of plasmonic optical filters, waveguides, resonators and super-resolution lenses.  We have also demonstrated that these structures can be made reconfigurable using LC materials.  Most recently, new devices and electro-optics have been demonstrated using graphene and LC/graphene materials.

Strategic themes

Energy, transport and urban infrastructure

The ability to control light is an important feature in both energy conservation and the development of urban infrastructure.  New materials and photonics are now starting to have a major impact in these area.

Manufacturing, design and materials

My group has several collaborations lead by industrial interest across many photonic applications from Telecommunications to Displays.  Recent projects include Samsung, Selex ES, BAE Systems, RSoft

Research projects

  • EPSRC grant ‘Exploiting the bandwidth potential of multi-mode fibres’ (COMIMO)
  • EPSRC grant CVD enabled Graphene Technology and Devices (GRAPHTED)

Teaching activity

  • ENG Pt IA ‘Electromagnetics’ basic EM theory including Gauss, Biot Savart and Ampere’s laws, self and mutual inductance, magnetic materials, B-H curves, split into two parts, Physical Principles of Electronics (Michaelmas), Electromagnetics (Lent).
  • EIST Pt IIA, 3F5 (2nd half)  ‘Telecommunications and computer networks’. The course outlines the basic theory of networks, topologies and switches for both telecommunications and computers.
  • ENG IIB, 4B11 ‘Photonic Systems’  Fourier optics, holography and liquid crystals, including free space optics, optical materials and adaptive optic.
  • ENG IIB, 4B20 ‘Display Technology’ course on display technology, including optics, flat panels, backplanes and projection.

Research opportunities

We are always looking for new PhD applicants in any of the areas you see on the CMMPE web pages.