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PhD full scholarship: End-to-end incoherent holographic imaging

PhD full scholarship position on end-to-end incoherent holographic imaging

For 50 years, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel has stood for freedom, equality and connectedness. These values are strongly present on our campuses, in our students as well as our staff. At the VUB, you’ll find a diverse collection of personalities: pure innovators and especially people who are 100% their authentic selves. With about 3.500 employees, we are the largest Flemish-speaking employer in Brussels, an international city with which we are all too happy to be connected, and around which our four campuses are located.

Position Description

The Brussels Photonics (B-PHOT) team from the Department of Applied Physics and Photonics, and the Department of Electronics and Informatics (ETRO), an imec research group at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) have an open research position for a talented and motivated researcher.


Conventional cameras capture two-dimensional images, even though our world is three-dimensional (3D). This lack of depth information limits measurements and restricts our understanding of the complexity of recorded 3D objects and environments. Holography does not have these shortcomings, as it can record and reproduce the full wavefield of light, both amplitude and phase information. However, holography relies on light interference, and demands highly coherent light. That is why holograms are typically recorded in controlled laboratory conditions with, e.g., lasers.

Recent advancements have addressed this constraint through the development of incoherent holographic camera prototypes. These prototypes can decompose incoherent light into mutually interfering coherent wavefronts, enabling the recording of color holograms using natural light sources such as sunlight and indoor lighting. This technology would allow for plenoptic 3D information encoding with natural light.


Today, the holograms are still noisy and of limited quality. One important reason is the inaccurate, incoherent light propagation models and the absence of underlying 3D scene representations. This requires the designing and developing of specialized computer-generated hologram (CGH) algorithms, modeling the propagation of incoherent light through space. Numerical diffraction calculations are highly computationally intensive, so efficient parallelizable software implementations are necessary.

This research will investigate and develop sophisticated algorithms for the propagation of incoherent light, novel computational algorithms for solving inverse problems to retrieve denoised and high-resolution holographic recordings, and motion compensation techniques. In this PhD research project, the candidate will design a novel end-to-end incoherent holographic imaging system, and prototype both the camera optics and hardware. It will happen in close collaboration with other researchers from VUB ETRO and the National Institute of Information and Communication Technology (NICT) in Japan. They will focus on the algorithms and simulators to drive high-end, incoherent holographic camera systems.

The main goal of this PhD position is to develop a generalized differentiable optical propagation model and optimize the related optics for realizing an incoherent holographic camera system capturing holograms in natural light environments with unprecedented quality.

Partners and Workplace

The involved research team B-PHOT is internationally recognized for its distinct contributions to photonics. B-PHOT has been key in integrating the European photonics R&D landscape for over 30 years, with research expertise in optical design, modeling, and prototyping for various applications. B-PHOT's key research topics include prototyping micro-optical components/systems and freeform optical components for imaging and non-imaging optics.

This research work will be mainly performed at the VUB Main Campus, located in Etterbeek, Brussels. This research will also happen in close collaboration with the researchers at the Department of Electronics and Informatics (ETRO), an imec research group at VUB and the National Institute of Information and Communication Technology (NICT) in Japan.

Profile and Requirements

  • MSc degree focusing on optical engineering, photonics, physics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, or a related field.
  • Prior experience with computational imaging, freeform optics, Fourier optics, and optical system design is considered a strong asset;
  • Programming skills (Python, MATLAB, C/C++, etc.) and/or knowledge of holographic imaging is a plus;
  • Prior knowledge and hands-on experience with state-of-the-art machine learning frameworks (e.g., sci-kit-learn, Tensorflow, PyTorch) is considered as an advantage;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English;
  • Well-motivated, enthusiastic and critical thinking, preferably competent to work independently;

Our offer

  • A very competitive salary and benefits (holiday allowance, end-year bonus, commuting expense coverage, possibilities to work from home, eco-vouchers, attractive discounts via Benefits@Work, etc.) ;
  • Being part of an international, multicultural team in Brussels, a city known for its international character and central location in Europe;
  • Opportunities for learning new technical and transferable skills;
  • Participation in national and international workshops and conferences;
  • Fully funded research stays abroad (optional);Last but not least, a fantastic topic that is attractive to sci-fiction & pop science!


To apply, kindly submit the required documents (including a statement of motivation, a CV, and transcripts of your master and bachelor studies, language proficiency, etc.) to Prof. Yunfeng Nie. Inquiries can also be addressed to Prof. Yunfeng Nie.

The application is subject to the "first arrive, first serve" principle. We will send the interview invitation to the promising applicants ASAP.

Application deadline: 31 March 2024

Apply now!

Application deadline: 31 March 2024


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