Iain Burns


  • United Kingdom

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Personal profile

Academic / Professional qualifications

MEng Chemical Engineering (University of Strathclyde)

PhD Chemical Engineering (University of Cambridge)

Personal Statement

My research involves the development and application of optical techniques for the characterisation of reacting flows.  We use light sources ranging from compact diode lasers and LEDs to high-power pulsed lasers.  This experimental work is supported by data analysis and modelling to extract physically meaningful information from the measured signals.

We use these techniques to investigate the formation of soot in combustion processes.  Soot (also known as black carbon) is a significant agent of climate forcing. Experimental characterisation of well-defined laboratory flames is essential to understanding the mechanism of soot formation and thus to predict and minimise its emission from combustion processes. 

Research Interests

  • Laser induced fluorescence
  • Cavity ring-down spectroscopy
  • Laser induced incandescence
  • Light scattering
  • Combustion
  • Laminar flames
  • Temperature measurement
  • Trace gas detection
  • Soot and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Direct flame fuel cells
  • Crystallisation

Expertise & Capabilities

I lead research on the development and application of custom measurement techniques for imaging reacting flows, including under harsh conditions of luminosity, turbidity and high temperature.  This includes measurement of:

  • Temperature
  • Concentration of trace gases
  • Concentration of particulates
  • Particle size

This has obvious relevance to a wide range of industrial problems and we are keen to build new partnerships to exploit these possibilities. 

Industrial Relevance

Our work has application to industrial partners in the areas of Energy and Advanced Manufacturing including, but not restricted to:

  • Combustion and gasification
  • Fuel cells
  • Pharmaceutical processes

Teaching Interests

I currently teach mass transfer, vapour-liquid separations and adsorption processes to Year 3 and process measurements to final year MEng students.

I supervise research and industrial projects for full-time and distance-learning MEng and MSc students, chemical engineering design projects and undergraduate summer research projects.

I have previously lectured on process design, engineering maths, thermodynamics and chemical reactor engineering so I have broad experience of teaching the core components of the Chemical Engineering undergraduate curriculum.

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Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2009 2023

Research Output 2004 2019

13 Downloads (Pure)

In-situ photoacoustic measurement of soot profiles in laminar flames using a high repetition-rate pulsed fibre laser

Humphries, G. S., Roy, R., Black, J. D., Lengden, M. & Burns, I. S., 30 Apr 2019, In : Applied Physics B: Lasers and Optics. 125, 4, 6 p., 60.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
fiber lasers
pulsed lasers

CIDAR: combustion species imaging diagnostics for aero-engine research

Archilla, V., Aragón, G., Wright, P., Ozanyan, K., Black, J., Polydorides, N., McCann, H., Lengden, M., Burns, I., Johnstone, W., Polo, V., Beltran, M., Mauchline, I., Walsh, D. & Johnson, M., 18 Jun 2018. 1 p.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Open Access
Bypass ratio
Imaging techniques
Exhaust systems (engine)
Aircraft engines


Laser induced incandescence imaging for the investigation of soot formation in laminar flames

Author: Roy, R. G., 1 Oct 2017

Supervisor: Burns, I. (Supervisor) & Li, J. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Novel diode laser absorption techniques for combustion diagnostics

Author: Humphries, G. S., 1 Apr 2016

Supervisor: Lengden, M. (Supervisor) & Burns, I. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Activities 2017 2019

  • 3 Participation in workshop, seminar, course

Strathclyde Adsorption Summer School 2019

Miguel Jorge (Organiser), Ashleigh Fletcher (Organiser), Iain Burns (Keynote/plenary speaker)
18 Jun 201921 Jun 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Strathclyde Adsorption Summer School 2018

Miguel Jorge (Organiser), Ashleigh Fletcher (Organiser), Iain Burns (Keynote/plenary speaker)
12 Jun 201815 Jun 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course