Group members
  • Group Leader
  • Prof G. S. Buller

    Prof Gerald S. Buller

  • Research Fellows
  • Dr A. McCarthy

    Dr Aongus McCarthy

  • Dr R. J. Donaldson

    Dr Ross J. Donaldson

  • Research Associates
  • Dr P. Connolly

    Dr Pete Connolly

  • Dr A. Maccarone

    Dr Aurora Maccarone

  • Dr C. C. Novo

    Dr Catarina C. Novo

  • Dr L. Saalbach

    Dr Lisa Saalbach

  • Dr F. Thorburn

    Dr Fiona Thorburn

  • Dr R. Tobin

    Dr Rachael Tobin

  • Dr X. Yi

    Dr Xin Yi

  • Dr U. Zanforlin

    Dr Ugo Zanforlin

  • Dr C. Zhang

    Dr Chunmei Zhang

  • Postgraduate Students
  • Mr D. W. Canning

    Mr David W. Canning

  • Mr A. T. Castillo

    Mr Alfonso Tello Castillo

  • Ms Z. Greener

    Ms Zoë M. Greener

  • Ms L. L. Huddleston

    Ms Laura L. Huddleston

  • Mr U. Steinlehner

    Mr Ulrich Steinlehner

  • Mr E. C. Wade

    Mr Ewan C. Wade

Professor Gerald S. Buller

Contact info:

email: G.S.Buller[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 3069
Fax: +44 (0)131 451 8083

Prof Gerald S. Buller was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1965. He graduated with BSc (Hons) Natural Philosophy from the University of Glasgow in 1986 and PhD in Physics from Heriot‑Watt University in 1989. In 1990, Prof Buller became a Lecturer in Physics at Heriot‑Watt University, was promoted to Reader in 2000 and made a Professor in 2006.

Gerald Buller’s research interests are mainly associated with photon‑counting technology and applications, including quantum communications, quantum imaging, time‑of‑flight ranging and imaging. He also has wider interests in semiconductor optoelectronic devices and optical thin film multilayer structures.

Gerald co‑founded TeraHertz Photonics Ltd. in 1998 and Helia Photonics Ltd. in 2002. He is currently Chairman of Helia Photonics Ltd.. He is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK), and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Prof Buller was the founding Head of Heriot‑Watt’s Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences (IPaQS) and led IPaQS from 2012 until 2015. In 2015, Professor Buller was awarded a prestigious EPSRC Established Career Fellowship in Quantum Technology. Professor Buller is a member of the Management teams of the EPSRC Quantum Enhanced Imaging (QuantIC) Hub and the EPSRC Quantum Communications Hub.

Prof Buller's outside interests are mountain biking, gym training, swimming and painting/drawing.

Heriot‑Watt Research Gateway

Dr Ross J. Donaldson

Contact info:

email: R.Donaldson[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 8120

Ross Donaldson is from Perth, Scotland. He graduated with a BSc in Engineering Physics from Heriot‑Watt University in 2012.

During his time as an Undergraduate, Ross undertook two summer research placements at the University. His first was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, where he designed a vacuum system for the Ultrafast Dynamics Group. His second placement saw his investigating polarisation‑based quantum communications.

Following his Undergraduate degree, he started his PhD in 2012 with the Single‑Photon Group at Heriot‑Watt University. His research topic was quantum communication technology, something he had become intrigued about during his second summer research placement. During his PhD he worked on experimental demonstrations for two quantum communication technologies; quantum digital signatures, and quantum state comparison amplification. In 2016, he defended his Thesis title: Quantum‑Security in Optical Fibre Networks.

After his PhD, Ross took on his first role as a post‑doctoral research associate (PDRA), where he developed an experiment to improve the state comparison amplifier through quantum state correction with a measurement and feed‑forward mechanism. His second role as a PDRA saw him move into free‑space quantum communications, where he investigated the novel single‑photon detector technology for free-space/satellite‑based applications.

Ross is now a Research Fellow funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering. During the Fellowship, Ross will investigate novel photonic technology to enable practical optical ground stations for satellite‑based quantum communications.

Ross has research interests in quantum technology, optical and photonic technology, and space/satellite technology. He is a member of the Institute of Physics (IOP).

Heriot‑Watt Research Gateway

Dr Catarina C. Novo

Contact info:

email: c.novo[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 8003

Dr Catarina Novo is from Aveiro, Portugal and studied Integrated Masters in Chemical Engineering at University of Aveiro. After her graduation, Catarina worked as a researcher (post-masters) at University of Porto on a Chemical Engineering Project regarding the pulp and paper industry and later on at University of Aveiro and Instituto de Telecomunicações (Aveiro), widening the scope of the research embracing optical fibre sensors projects.

In 2014, Catarina moved to Edinburgh to do her PhD within the Applied Optics and Photonics Group, Heriot‑Watt University. The scope of the research was based on microstructured optical fibres and ways to functionalise the fibres to use as optical fibre sensors, using ultrafast laser machining.

In October 2018, Catarina initiated a postdoctoral research associate position in Precision Laser Machining at Heriot‑Watt University and in May 2019 she joined the Single‑Photon Group to work as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Applied Free‑Space Quantum Communications.

Catarina also enjoys being involved in outreach activities and travelling.

Dr Aurora Maccarone

Contact info:

email: a.maccarone[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 3056
Fax: +44 (0)131 451 3136

Dr Aurora Maccarone was born in Palermo Italy in 1983.

She graduated in 2007 with a BSc in Physics and in 2011 with MSc in Material Physics from the University of Palermo.

In 2012, Aurora started a PhD with the Single‑Photon Group studying underwater imaging under the supervision of Professor Gerald S. Buller in collaboration with Professor Yvan Petillot and Professor Andrew Wallace.

In her spare time, Aurora enjoys traveling, cooking and music.

Dr Aongus McCarthy

Contact info:

email: A.McCarthy[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 3056
Fax: +44 (0)131 451 3136

Aongus McCarthy is from Ferbane, Co. Offaly, Ireland. He graduated with a BSc from University College Galway in 1989, a Diploma in Electronic Engineering from the Institute of Technology in Carlow, Ireland in 1990 and received a BSc in Physical Optoelectronics from Essex University, England in 1991. Between 1991 and starting his PhD at Heriot‑Watt University in 1997, he spent two years as an Associate on a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) run Teaching Company Scheme (now known as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships) between Coventry University and Signam Limited in Warwick. He was then employed by Signam and was the leader of the R & D Design Team that developed a pre‑production prototype of a thermal transfer printer for printing onto non‑absorbent polyester type materials.

He received a PhD degree in Physics from Heriot‑Watt University in 2002. His work focussed on the development of a polymer based integration platform for a high‑speed optoelectronic crosspoint switch demonstrator which incorporated direct laser written multimode waveguides and mirror surfaces. Since becoming a Research Associate, Aongus has designed, assembled and tested an optical routing module for a multiple‑wavelength time‑of‑flight sensor based on time‑correlated single photon counting, developed a polymer‑based, multi‑layer planar lightwave circuit platform, and is currently working on the optical and optomechanical design of a multi‑parameter fluorescence lifetime imaging microscope.

His research interests include optical interconnects (free‑space and guided‑wave), optical and optomechanical design, direct laser writing techniques and microscope systems. Aongus has been a member of the Optical Society of America (OSA) since 1999 and a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Photonics Society (IPS) since 2002.

Heriot‑Watt Research Gateway

Dr Rachael Tobin

Contact info:

email: r.tobin[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 3056
Fax: +44 (0)131 451 3136

Rachael was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1988 and grew up in Danderhall, Midlothian where she attended Dalkeith High School.

She moved to Arizona, USA for four years after high school where she studied Japanese Language and earned an Associate of Arts degree in 2010. After this, she undertook a BSc (Hons) in Physics at Heriot‑Watt University, graduating in June 2015.

In June 2015, she joined the Single‑Photon Group at Heriot‑Watt University working on image processing for time‑of‑flight depth measurements under the supervision of Prof Gerald S. Buller. Rachael earned her PhD in August 2019 and is currently working as a Postdoctoral Researcher.

In her free time Rachael enjoys playing flute and violin, gaming, board games, and reading sci‑fi and fantasy.

Dr Chunmei Zhang

Contact info:

email: chunmei.zhang[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 2003

Chunmei comes from a small village in Shandong, China. Chunmei joined the Single‑Photon Group as a Research Associate in December 2019 to study satellite quantum communications.

She worked for five years as a Research Assistant at the Institute of Optics and Electronics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), after she obtained her master degree in Optics from the University of Electronic Sciences and Technology of China. During her time at CAS, she got involved in the R&D of the commercial laser confocal biochip scanner and UV mask aligners.

Chunmei earned her Doctorate from the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences, Heriot‑Watt University. Her thesis, "Ultrathin Metasurface Devices for Phase and Polarization Control", focused on the development of nanoscale optical devices with unusual functionalities that are difficult or impossible to realize with conventional optical components.

Outside of work she enjoys gardening, crocheting, reading and playing with her cat.

Mr David W. Canning

Contact info:

email: dwc1[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 4687
Fax: +44 (0)131 451 3136

Mr David W. Canning was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1989. Having gained an undergraduate degree in theoretical physics from the University of St. Andrews in 2013, he went on to work for Hewlett‑Packard Enterprise Services (now DXC Technology) as a systems programmer. He moved on from this position in order to gain a more rounded education in computer science via postgraduate study in high performance computing at the University of Edinburgh.

David is working towards a PhD under the supervision of Prof Gerald S. Buller with the support of a scholarship from the UK Quantum Technology Hub for Quantum Communications Technologies. He will be helping work towards experimental realizations of quantum amplifiers, quantum digital signatures, and free‑space quantum key distribution.

Besides work, David enjoys playing drums and percussion, playing and watching football, and running.

Dr Pete Connolly

Contact info:

email: pc23[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: To be confirmed
Fax: To be confirmed

Pete Connolly grew up in Staffordshire, England, before studying for a degree in Advertising at the University of Northampton, earning a BA (Hons) in 2008. After working in advertising, Peter returned to education and graduated with an MSc (Hons) in Physics from the University of Birmingham in 2016.

In October 2016 he joined the Single‑Photon Group at Heriot‑Watt University working on next generation imaging using sparse single‑photon data under the supervision of Prof. Gerald S. Buller. Pete earned his Doctorate in July 2020 and continued working as a Postdoctoral Researcher with the Single‑Photon Group on the topic of enhanced quantum imaging.

In his spare time Pete plays football, practices taekwondo and enjoys travelling.

Dr Ugo Zanforlin

Contact info:

email: uz2[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 4687
Fax: +44 (0)131 451 3136

Ugo Zanforlin was born in Abano Terme (Italy) in 1989. He graduated from the Università degli studi di Padova (Italy) with a MSc (Hons) in Physics in 2015.

In June 2016 Ugo joined the Single‑Photon Group at Heriot‑Watt University working on quantum digital signatures, quantum amplifiers and random numbers generation under the supervision of Prof. Gerald S. Buller in collaboration with Dr Ross J. Donaldson, Dr Robert J. Collins and Mr David W. Canning. He has been a member of the Optical Society of America (OSA) since 2016 and covered the role of officer for the Heriot‑Watt OSA student chapter in 2017. Ugo obtained his Doctorate in July 2020 and is currently working as a Postdoctoral Researcher on Quantum communications.

In his spare time Ugo enjoys playing the piano, mountain biking, reading, cooking and gaming.

Ms Zoë M. Greener

Contact info:

email: zmg1[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 4687
Fax: +44 (0)131 451 3136

Zoë M. Greener was born in 1995 and grew up in Hampshire. She moved to Edinburgh in 2013 and completed her undergraduate degree at Heriot‑Watt University receiving an MPhys (Hons) in June 2018.

In September 2018 she joined the Single‑Photon Group at Heriot‑Watt University, studying single‑photon and quantum enhanced imaging. She is also collaborating with Dr Kateryna Kuzmenko on integrated Ge on Si SPADs on Si platforms.

During her free time she enjoy playing hockey, dancing, skiing, and anything outdoorsy.

Mr Alfonso Tello Castillo

Contact info:

email: at154[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: To be confirmed
Fax: To be confirmed

Alfonso Tello Castillo was born in Sevilla (Spain) in 1994. He graduated from the Universidad de Sevilla (Spain) with a Bachelor degree in Telecommunication Engineering in 2017 after having spent one year in Czech Republic through the Erasmus program.

In 2017, Alfonso started a two‑years Master in Telecommunication Engineering graduating in 2019. During this time, he was also part of the research staff at Telematics Department at the Universidad de Sevilla. Alfonso joined the Single‑Photon Group at Heriot‑Watt University working on satellite‑based quantum communications under the supervision of Dr Ross J. Donaldson.

In his spare time Alfonso enjoys playing football and tennis, reading, cooking and brewing beer.

Mr Ewan C. Wade

Contact info:

email: ecw3[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 4687
Fax: +44 (0)131 451 3136

Ewan C. Wade was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1996. He graduated from the University of Strathclyde in 2019 with an MPhys degree with a specialisation in Photonics. During his last two years at Strathclyde, Ewan worked on Neuromorphic Photonics projects and was fortunate enough to have the work from his 4th‑year project published during the latter half of his final year.

Ewan is currently working towards a PhD under the supervision of Prof. Gerald S. Buller with the support of a sponsorship from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. Ewan joined the Single‑Photon Group in 2019 and his work will be focussed on time‑of‑flight ranging and imaging.

In his spare time, Ewan enjoys playing the piano, listening to music, gaming and movies.

Dr Fiona Thorburn

Contact info:

email: f.thorburn[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 4687
Fax: +44 (0)131 451 3136

Fiona E. Thorburn was born in Melrose in the Scottish Borders in 1991. She grew up in Berwickshire on the South‑east coast of Scotland.

She completed her undergraduate degree at Heriot‑Watt University, graduating in 2015 with an MPhys(Hons). In October 2015 she began her PhD in the Nonlinear Optics Group at Heriot‑Watt University working on the development of compact high repetition rate mid‑IR solid‑state lasers.

On completion of her PhD in October 2019 Fiona joined the Single‑Photon Group at Heriot‑Watt University as a Postdoctoral Researcher where she is now studying infrared single‑photon counting using integrated Ge‑on‑Si SPADs (single‑photon avalanche detectors).

In her spare time Fiona enjoys hiking, watching football and tennis, reading and baking.

Ms Laura L. Huddleston

Contact info:

email: llh4[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 4687
Fax: +44 (0)131 451 3136

Laura L. Huddleston was born in 1995 and grew up in Atlanta, USA. She graduated with a bachelor degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2017. Winning the Bobby Jones Fellowship, she moved to Scotland for an MSc in Photonics and Optoelectronic Devices, a joint program between the University of St. Andrews and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

In October 2019, she joined the Single‑Photon Group at Heriot‑Watt University, studying integrated Ge‑on‑Si SPADs on Si platforms under the supervision of Prof. Gerald S. Buller.

During her free time she enjoys a nice cupa tea while cooking, reading, and exploring castles.

Mr Ulrich Steinlehner

Contact info:

email: uks2[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 4687
Fax: +44 (0)131 451 3136

Ulrich was born in Schwaebisch Hall, Germany. In 2013 he successfully completed his apprenticeship as mechatronics technician at MAN Truck & Bus AG (Nuremberg, Germany). Afterwards Ulrich started studying to reinforce and gain further knowledge in mechatronics, graduating with a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechatronics (Major Mechatronic Systems) from Deggendorf Institute of Technology (Germany).

In 2018, after his BEng, Ulrich moved to Edinburgh to study for an MSc in Embedded Systems Engineering at Heriot‑Watt University. Following his Graduation in December 2019, he joined the Single‑Photon Group at Heriot‑Watt University and will be working on single‑photon underwater imaging under the supervision of Prof. Gerald S. Buller. The fundamentals for his work were researched by Dr Aurora Maccarone, with whom Ulrich will work in close collaboration.

In his spare time, Ulrich immerses himself in nature by walking, traveling with his bicycle or motorbike and likes wrenching on them too. Additionally he enjoys reading, culture and history.

Dr Xin Yi

Contact info:

email: xin.yi[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: To be confirmed
Fax: To be confirmed

Xin Yi was born in Chongqing, China in 1991. He received his Bachelor degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering at The University of Sheffield in 2015. He started a PhD at the same university working on AlAs0.56Sb0.44 avalanche photodiodes in September 2015.

In 2020, he moved to Edinburgh and joined the Single‑Photon Group at Heriot‑Watt University as a Postdoctoral Researcher. The scope of the project is infrared single‑photon counting based on Si‑on‑Ge single photon avalanche detectors.

In his spare time Xin Yi enjoys sports, reading and travelling.

Dr Lisa Saalbach

Contact info:

email: l.saalbach[anti-spam](at)[remove]hw.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)131 449 3648

Lisa grew up in Leipzig, Germany where she attended the International School and completed her International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. In 2011 she moved to Heriot‑Watt University to study Chemical Physics, obtaining her MPhys in 2016. Following this she started a PhD in the Ultrafast Molecular Dynamics Group at Heriot‑Watt University, which focused on time‑resolved imaging studies of the ultrafast relaxation dynamics in molecular systems.

In February 2020, Lisa joined the Single‑Photon Group at Heriot‑Watt as a Research Associate to study the remote sensing of pollutants using single‑photon techniques.

In her spare time Lisa enjoys spending time with friends, hiking, running and reading.