Aston University

Aston campusThe Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT), with around 70 researchers, is the largest research group in Aston University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, and one of the largest photonics research groups in the UK. It has a world-recognised record of achievement in nonlinear photonics, high-speed optical transmission and processing, in fibre optic components and in fibre optic sensors. It is an acknowledged centre of excellence for experimental and theoretical research in optical soliton, high speed optical systems, fibre grating technology, fibre sensors, microwave photonics, biophotonics, and all-optical networks. The group pursues a diverse range of device and system level topics at the leading edge of technology. It has recently successfully expanded its activities in a number of key areas including femtosecond pulsed laser techniques, medical sensing devices, planar integrated optical circuits and fibre lasers. The group has a total publication output of well over 1000 papers, more than 60 patents, and its technology has created the foundations for five start-up companies. During the past five years, the Group has co-authored publications with colleagues from almost 70 UK and overseas institutions and companies, and has hosted more than 150 research visitors for work periods ranging from a week to a year.

DJW Picture squareThe Coordinator of TRIPOD, Prof. David J Webb, has approximately 30 years’ experience in optical fibre sensors and devices. He undertook a PhD in the field of fibre sensing at the University of Kent and after a 2 year postdoctoral post at Oxford University he returned to Kent as a lecturer in 1991 before moving to Aston in 2001. He has published around 350 journal and conference papers in the field. Much of the applied part of this work has been carried out in collaboration with industry and he has spun out 2 companies; Sensormetrics - exploiting expertise developed whilst at the University of Kent,  and Astasense - doing the same for his work at Aston University. He has 5 patents to his name from his time at Aston. Prof. Webb started up work on polymer fibre grating technology at Aston University and since 2005 has responsible for a number of firsts:

  • First POFBG in microstructured fibre
  • First UV photoinscribed long period grating
  • First applications of POFBGs away from the optical bench
  • First POFBG in the 800nm spectral region
  • First POFBG in 600nm spectral region
  • First wavelength multiplexed POFBGs
  • First POFBG in humidity insensitive TOPAS fibre
  • First single mode demountable connector for POFBGs


Christiane Doering-Saad is the Project Manager of TRIPOD. Having studied at Universities in Germany, Israel and the UK, Christiane specialised in Plant Molecular Biology and has over 15 years’ experience of working as a research scientist in Britain, Europe and beyond. Moving away from active laboratory research in 2004 she has worked in various coordinative roles at the University of Birmingham, UK, before joining Aston University in 2010 as Project Manager of the FP7 collaborative project Uncertweb (€3.7M), as well as Project  Administrator of Advance (€2.8M), another FP7 collaborative project.




The Training Coordinator of TRIPOD, Dr Kate Sugden, has over 20 years of experience in the manufacture of fibre Bragg gratings and their application in sensing systems. Kate worked in both academia (Aston) and industry (ADC in Australia, Oxford Fibre Optic Tools) before founding Indigo Photonics. The company sold fibre Bragg grating devices into the telecommunications market and was at the forefront of developing fibre Bragg grating interrogation technology for the optical sensing community. This ultimately resulted in the company’s sale to Insensys in 2003.  In 2004 she returned to Aston University in 2004 as a Medici Fellow looking at commercialisation and technology transfer and, after transferring to the academic team, became a Senior Lecturer in 2008.  Since September 2011 she has been the Undergraduate Programme Director for the undergraduate Electrical and Electronic Engineering programmes  whilst concurrently acting as a director for Astasense, an optical design consultancy.