Contact Professor Stephen James

Areas of expertise

  • Biosensors & Diagnostics
  • Defence Sensors
  • Instrumentation, Sensors and Measurement Science
  • Monitoring and Environmental Informatics
  • Nanomaterials
  • Nanotechnology
  • Sensor Technologies
  • Smart Materials
  • Vehicle Health Management


Stephen gained a BSc in Physics and an MSc in Applied Optics from Imperial College London, before moving to the University of Southampton to undertake a PhD. At Cranfield he has progressed from a Research Fellow to become the Professor of Applied Optics.

He joined Cranfield University in 1993 as a Research Fellow, joining a team focused on developing photonic based solutions to measurement problems. During his time at Cranfield, instrumentation that Stephen has designed and built has been field trialled in applications ranging from foundation piles and tramway component health monitoring to measurements of transient loading in superconducting magnets and flight testing

Stephen held an EPSRC Challenging Engineering award from 2006 to 2011, developing fibre optic sensors for geotechnical applications (EP/D506654/1). He won the National Measurement Awards Frontier Science and Measurement category in 2004 (with Prof. Ralph Tatam) for work on optical fibre chemical sensing platforms using nanoscale functional coatings.

Stephen is the past editor in Chief of the international journal Optics and Laser Technology and is a member of the technical program committees of the European Workshop on Optical Fibre Sensors, CLEO Europe and of  IEEE Sensors. Stephen has authored more than 350 research outputs, including 100 papers in peer reviewed journals.

Current activities

Stephen leads the Optical Fibre Sensors research theme within the Engineering Photonics Centre. His research interests are focused on optical instrumentation and photonic sensors, with an emphasis on their practical deployment. Areas of particular interest are:

  • Optical Fiber Sensors
    • Fibre Bragg Gratings
    • Long Period Gratings
    • Interferometry
  • Electronic Speckle Pattern Interferometry
  • Shearography
  • Laser Doppler Velocimetry

Recent work under EU FP7 projects has involved extensive field trialling of optical fibre sensors for monitoring the health of rail components (PMnIDEA), for measuring strain and pressure on aircraft wings (AIM2) and monitoring the processing of carbon fibre reinforced composites (ADVITAC). Since 2007 he has collaborated with Professor SW Lee's group from Kitakyushu University on the development of chemical sensors based on optical fibre devices coated with functional materials.



Much of Stephen's research has been funded by the EPSRC and the European Union. He has worked with a number of companies including:

  • Oxford Instruments
  • Tata Steel
  • Sheffield Stagecoach Supertram
  • Daher
  • DLR
  • NLR
  • Airbus
  • Airbus Helicopters (UK)
  • Rolls Royce


Articles In Journals

Conference Papers