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. He joined Cranfield University in 1993 as a Research Fellow, employed to design a 3D laser velocimeter for turbomachinery applications, joining a team focused on developing photonic based solutions to measurement problems. During his time at Cranfield he has progressed from Research Fellow to become the Professor of Applied Optics. 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 on fixed wing and rotary aircraft.

Research opportunities

I have a broad interest in optical instrumentation and sensors, with a particular focus on optical fibre sensing. The Engineering Photonics Centre has expertise and experience of the development and practical deployment of a range of optical instrumentation and sensors in aerospace, ground transportation, environmental monitoring, healthcare and civil engineering.

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


Electronic Speckle Pattern Interferometry


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(external)), 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(external) on the development of chemical sensors based on optical fibre devices coated with functional materials.


  • Oxford Instruments PLC
  • Tata Steel
  • Stagecoach Supertram
  • Daher
  • Transport for London (DLR)
  • NLR (Netherlands Aerospace Centre)
  • Airbus SE
  • Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC


Articles In Journals

Conference Papers