The Group



Professor of Engineering Science


Steve undertook his first degree (in maths and physics) at Exeter University. He then stayed on at Exeter in the physics department to study for his Ph.D. under the direction of Prof. Roy Sambles (FRS). He moved to Oxford in 1991, holding a senior research fellowship at Somerville College funded by GEC/Marconi and the Royal Academy of Engineering. This was followed by a Royal Society Research Fellowship. In 1996 he became a university lecturer in engineering science at Oxford, held jointly with a tutorial fellowship at St. John’s College.

Steve’s present research interests are mainly in the field of novel liquid crystal materials and applications, within which he undertakes both theoretical and experimental work. The theoretical work has three main strands: (i) the applications of liquid crystal continuum theory to novel liquid crystal phases; (ii) the interactions between order and elasticity in liquid crystalline systems; (iii) advanced optics of liquid crystal displays. Experimental work undertaken includes the study of alignment and switching processes in novel liquid crystal phases, and also the applications of liquid crystalline materials in display technology.

Contact details:

Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PJ


Associate Professor 


Stephen is an Associate Professor in the Optoelectronic sector of the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford. He is also a Tutorial and Ana Leaf Foundation Fellow in Engineering at Jesus College, Oxford, where he teaches the first and second year undergraduate courses in Mathematics and Electrical Engineering as part of the General Engineering MEng course. He obtained a Masters in Physics degree from the University of Southampton, specialising in Space Science, and a PhD in Engineering from the University of Cambridge. His PhD topic was on the development of liquid crystals for linear and nonlinear photonics applications (with Professor Harry Coles). Following his PhD, he was appointed as the Program Manager & Research Associate of the COSMOS Basic Technology Research Grant at the University of Cambridge. This was a large multi-disciplinary project set-up to develop new organic laser devices. In 2011, Stephen was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to conduct research on random laser devices, which he held until September 2016, first at Cambridge and then Oxford.From 2007 to 2013, Stephen was also a Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he was the Director of Studies in Physics for Part I.

For his research on liquid crystalline materials, he was the recipient of the Young Scientist award by the British Liquid Crystal Society in 2010 and in 2012 he received the Runner-up prize of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s ERA Foundation Entrepreneur’s award in conjunction with two colleagues at Cambridge (Dr Damian Gardiner and Dr Philip Hands). In 2014, Stephen was awarded the Ben Sturgeon Prize by the Society for Information Display. He is also an Associate Editor of the journal Optical Materials, Chairman of the the Oxford Photonics Network ( and Academic Director for the Oxford Professional Development Programme in Electronics, Engineering, and Telecomms (

Stephen is a Co-Supervisor for the DPhil Students in the NanoScience and Technology Research Group that is led by Professor Seung Nam Cha and Dr Jung Inn Sohn. Details of our sister group can be found here.

Research Highlights

  • Paper on “A nanopatterned photonic crystal laser with a dye-doped liquid crystal” appeared on the front cover of Applied Physics Letters. Click here for link.
  • Printable liquid crystal lasers highlighted on the BBC News Website (publication can be found here).
  • Collaboration with Professor Albert Schenning’s group at TU/e in the Netherlands - “A Printable Optical Time-Temperature Integrator Based on Shape Memory in a Chiral Nematic Polymer Network appeared on the front cover of Advanced Functional Materials. Click here for the link.
  • Interview in the jobs section of Nature.
  • Paper on “Electrically tuneable liquid crystal photonic bandgaps” appeared on the inside front cover in the Special Edition of Advanced Materials celebrating 800 Years of the University of Cambridge. Click here for the link.
  • New Twist to tuning Lasers”. Highlight in Nature Photonics on liquid crystal lasers.
  • Liquid Crystal Smart Glazing technology highlighted on the SPIE Newsroom.

Contact Details:



Julian graduated from University College London in 1991 with a first class degree in Electronic Engineering with Optoelectronics. He went on to gain a Ph.D. in Quantum Well Optical Modulators from the School of Physics, University of Bath. He then moved into industry, first spending 3 years at GEC-Marconi Caswell researching optical devices, optical phased array radar systems and optical sensor systems. He then spent 7 Years at Nortel Networks Harlow Laboratories undertaking research into high capacity optical transmission systems. Following this he became Research and Development Manager at Cambridge start-up Splashpower, pioneering wireless power for mobile devices. Subsequently he moved to QinetiQ spin-out company Stingray Geophysical as Optical Systems Manager. Here he was responsible for the development of a large scale optical sensor interrogation system for seismic imaging of oil and gas fields. He is now working on instrumentation to gain a greater understanding of the dynamic optical performance of liquid crystal devices. Highlights of Julian’s research include inventing the twin fibre grating tunable dispersion compensator and devising the first negative chirp electroabsorption modulator. This latter device is now a key component in optical telecommunications systems.

Contact Details:

Dr Jia-De Lin

Jia-De received his PhD degree from the Department of Photonics, National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in 2015. His PhD topic was on tunable photonic bandgap devices and lasers based on cholesteric and blue phase liquid crystals. From May 2014 to March 2015, He was a visiting PhD student in the Photonics group at the University of Bristol (UK) to combine the direct laser writing technique with liquid crystal materials for tunable photonics applications under the supervision of Prof. John Rarity (FRS). After being a postdoctoral researcher in NCKU for 2 years, Jia-De joined the Soft Matter Photonics group in Oxford in August 2017 as an academic research with the financial support from the Ministry of Science and technology (MOST) of Taiwan. Jia-De’s research focuses on, but not limited to, the development of novel photonic applications based on liquid crystal materials, especially on tunable liquid crystal lasers. In addition to tunable photonic devices, he is also enthusiastic about expanding his research field into smart textiles, energy-saving windows, and controllable soft-matter micro-rotators.

Contact Details:




Taimoor graduated with distinction in Master’s degree of Electronic Engineering from Ghulam Ishaq Khan (GIK) Institute of Engineering Sciences and got Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Government College (GC) University, Lahore. His research work in MS specifically on organic solar cell aimed to improve solar efficiency while reducing the cost. Part of his MS research work received 1st prize at International Symposium on Advance Materials (ISAM-2013) as poster presentation. Following his MS, Taimoor joined Faculty of Engineering Sciences in GIK Institute as Research Associate (RA) and worked with research theme Semiconductors & Superconductivity. As an RA, he published work on organic semiconductors and devices, particularly on photo-detectors and photoelectrochemical cells. He started his D.Phil. in Engineering Science at The University of Oxford to work on inorganic semiconductors and liquid crystals and is supervised by Dr Stephen Morris and Prof. Steve Elston. He is also a graduate member at Wolfson College.



After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Physics at Politecnico di Milano, Serena then followed a Double Masters Degree program (T.I.M.E.) at the Université libre de Bruxelles in 2012 and the Politecnico di Milano in 2013, specializing in Photonics and Nanotechnology, respectively. In 2013 she was awarded an FRIA Fellowship grant and started a joint PhD with the Université libre de Bruxelles and Universiteit Gent to work on soliton formation in liquid crystals (LCs) as well as the gain properties of dye and polymer doped liquid crystals. With the kind financial support of the Philippe Wiener - Maurice Anspach Foundation, she is currently working in the Soft Matter Photonics group where she is carrying out research on the flexoelectro-optic effect in dye doped liquid crystals. While in Oxford, Serena is supervised by Dr Stephen Morris, Professor Steve Elston and Professor Martin Booth (Head of the Dynamic Optics and Photonics group). Serena is also a member of Jesus College, Oxford.






David graduated with a Masters degree in Engineering Science from Brasenose College (University of Oxford) in 2013. He focussed his studies around electronics and communications, culminating in a fourth year project working with Prof Dominic O’Brien. His project ‘Visible Light Communications using Smart Phones’ won both the externally judged ‘Best Electronics Project’ prize and the internal ‘Best Electronics and Communications Project’ prize. In January 2014, he joined the Soft Matter Photonics group to develop liquid crystal technologies for controlling laser speckle. David is also a graduate student at Brasenose College, Oxford.





John ONeill John graduated with a Masters degree in Natural Sciences from University College London in 2015, with a specialism in condensed matter physics and inorganic chemistry. His masters project looked into the solution-based processing of graphene and carbon nanotubes and the fabrication of transparent conducting films from these materials. After graduating, he joined Sharp Laboratories of Europe, working on the development of compact UV laser sources. He joined the Soft Matter Photonics and Dynamic Optics and Photonics group in February 2017 to study for a DPhil in Engineering Science and holds an EPSRC I-CASE Studentship with Merck. His project is on direct laser writing of 3D polymeric materials in liquid crystal devices, looking towards applications in photonics. Outside of the lab John enjoys rock climbing, skiing and reading and is a graduate member of Wolfson College.



Ellis Parry graduated with a Masters degree in Engineering from St John's College (University of Oxford) in 2015. His final-year research project involved building an inkjet printing system for the deposition of complex fluids. In October 2015, he joined the Soft Matter Photonics Group to study nanocrystalline structures dispersed in chiral liquid crystalline systems. He is also developing a drop-on-demand printing system capable of dispensing complex active fluids and is co-supervised by Professor Alfonso Castrejon-Pita who runs the fluid dynamics laboratory in the Department of Engineering Science. Ellis holds an EPSRC I-CASE Studentship with Merck and is a graduate member of St John's College.



CHLOEChloe graduated from Imperial College London with a Bachelors degree in Physics (BSc), and then went on to obtain a Masters Degree in Space Science and Engineering (MSc) at University College London, specialising in Spacecraft Technology and Satellite Communications. In 2013, she obtained a Masters in Research (MRes) at the Centre for Doctoral Training in Photonics Systems Development, University of Cambridge, where she published work on indium gallium nitride (InGaN) quantum wells for ultra-efficient light emitting diodes. This work was carried out at the GaN centre, which is based in the Materials & Metallurgy Department at the University of Cambridge. Following her MRes, Chloe joined the Soft Matter Photonics group at Oxford for a DPhil in Engineering Science. She is currently pioneering the use of aberration-corrected direct laser writing in liquid crystal devices and is working in collaboration with the Dynamic Optics and Photonics group. Chloe is also a graduate student at Linacre College, Oxford.





 Xiuze graduated with a bachelor degree in Engineering Science from University of Nottingham in 2013. He focused his studies on using two tunable lasers to develop beat frequency sources to excite the vibration of membranes. After that, he went to the University of Cambridge to carry out research on GaN LEDs and optofludics systems. In 2016, he went to Toshiba (Japan) as part of an internship on developing semiconductor devices. He joined the Soft Matter Photonics group in October 2017 to develop liquid crystal technologies for medical imaging applications. Xiuze is also a graduate student at Jesus College, Oxford.





Sharad Raval did his final year undergraduate project in the group in the 2016-2017 academic year. His project involved the investigation of speckle and noise reduction in laser imaging systems.He was also a member of New College, Oxford.


KonradKonrad graduated from Wroclaw University of Science and Technology in 2016, with a Bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry and in Materials Science. Afterwards, he started his Masters degree on an Erasmus Mundus scholarship, Molecular nano- and bio-photonics for telecommunications and biotechnologies (MONABIPHOT), which is a joint programme between three European universities: École Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay, Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Wroclaw University of Science and Technology. His research interest is oriented around photo-electric properties of photochromic molecules, such as azobenzenes and spiropyrans, and nonlinear optical characteristics of a variety of materials. He was a member of the Soft Matter Photonics Group from February to July 2017 where he was conducting part of his Masters project on periodic polymer scaffolds in liquid crystalline materials. Konrad is now a PhD student at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Science and Technology.


SIMON WOODSimon graduated from Balliol College, Oxford, in 2012 with a Masters in Chemistry (MChem) after working in the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Grant Ritchie. His project was to use quantum cascade lasers for trace gas detection - specifically to detect acetone in breath in order to diagnose diabetes.

Subsequently, he joined the Centre for Doctoral Training in Photonics Systems Development and St John's College Cambridge. There he worked under the supervision of Prof. Tim Wilkinson, working on adaptive pumping of liquid crystal lasers using computer generated holography to achieve both wavelength tuning and pseudo continuous wave operation of such lasers. Subsequently he worked with Ilumink, Ltd. to develop printable liquid crystal lasers for anti-counterfeiting purposes. Simon then returned to Balliol and Oxford to start a DPhil in the Soft Matter Photonics group. His project was focussed on developing new thin-film laser devices. He completed his DPhil studies in September 2016.


Dongjin conducted his final year project on the construction of a dual-head, drop-on-demand inkjet printing system for the deposition of complex fluids. He was also a member of Jesus College.


Artem was a final year undergraduate student at New College specialising in Chemical Engineering and Optoelectronics. His fourth year project involved using liquid crystal lasers as light sources for imaging applications.