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Duncan graduated from the University of St Andrews in 1986 with a BSc in Physics with Electronics, and from the University of Southampton (Optoelectronics Research Centre) in 1991 with a PhD. The PhD studies were centred around an investigation of different techniques to incorporate permanent phase gratings into optical fibres ('fibre bragg gratings'). In 1991 he moved to Heriot-Watt University, initially employed as a Research Associate. In 1997 he was appointed Lecturer in Physics and subsequently promoted to Reader (2001) and Professor of Applied Photonics (2003). His work on manufacturing includes laser precision machining; the use of adaptive optics in laser manufacturing processes; and laser micro-joining. In this work he collaborates with a range of companies including GE Aviation, Renishaw, BAE Systems and Selex. He has further research activity on the delivery of high peak power laser light through novel optical fibres (with applications in manufacturing and medicine), including a collaboration with the University of Bath on photonic bandgap fibres. He also has an interest in optical sensing, with current activity in optically-addressed fibre optic micro-cantilever sensors. Duncan is currently a member of the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences management team as Director of Research and Deputy Head of School.
Duncan P Hand is (or has formerly been) affiliated with Applied Optics and Photonics Research, Heriot Watt University and Heriot-Watt University.