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Haida Liang

Haida Liang

Distinguished Professor

School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)
Physics and Mathematics


Professor Liang is Professor of Physics, Head of the Imaging & Sensing for Archaeology, Art History & Conservation (ISAAC) research group, Director of the Imaging, Materials and Engineering Research Centre (IMEC) and one of the leads of the university-wide Cultural Heritage Research Peak. She has published in a range of subjects from optics, imaging to heritage science and astronomy and has led over 50 research projects, attracting funding from AHRC, EPSRC, NERC, H2020, Royal Society, Leverhulme Trust to industry.

Teaching duties include: Module Leader for Year Three Cosmology: Theory and Observation; teaching contributions to Year Three Cosmology: Theory and Observation, MSc Medical Imaging, MSc Imaging Matter: From Atoms to Galaxies, and supervisions of BSc, MSc and MRes Physics projects.

Career overview

  • Professor of Physics, Nottingham Trent University (2015-current)
  • Reader in Physics, Nottingham Trent University (2009-2015)
  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Physics and Maths, Nottingham Trent University (2005-2009)
  • Scientific Department, the National Gallery, London (2002-2005)
  • Physics Department, University of Bristol, UK (1996-2002)
  • Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, Orsay, France (1996)
  • Service d'Astrophysique, Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA), Saclay, France (1995-1996)
  • PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University (1996)
  • BSc in Physics, University of Sydney (1990)

Research areas

Professor Liang leads the Imaging & Sensing for Archaeology, Art history & Conservation (ISAAC) research group, and the NTU research in Science for Heritage, Art and the Humanities.

Research Fellows:

  • Dr C. S. (Sammy) Cheung
  • Dr Sotiria Kogou
  • Dr Florence Liggins
  • Dr Alessandra Vichi

Research Assistant:

  • Alex Hogg

PhD Students:

  • Patrick Atkinson, in collaboration with the National Gallery
  • Margret Read, in collaboration with the British Museum
  • Yu Li
  • Luke Butler, in collaboration with the British Library
  • Amelia Suzuki, in collaboration with CNR in Italy
  • Makiko Tsunoda (School of Arts and Humanities), in collaboration with the British Museum
  • Mixon Faluweki (with Dr Lucas Goehring as Director of Studies), in collaboration with Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization
  • Jack Campbell (with Dr Dimitry Volodkin as Director of Studies)
  • Chris Pickup (School of Arts and Humanities, with Dr Duncan Grewcock as Director of Studies)
  • Hannah Cooper-Smithson (School of Arts and Humanities, with Dr Sarah Jackson as Director of Studies)

Areas of research include the development of advanced optical imaging, spectroscopic and remote sensing instruments for non-invasive and non-destructive investigation of materials, applications of physical sciences to history, art conservation and archaeology.

  • Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT): development of ultra-high resolution OCT, long wavelength OCT, polarisation sensitive OCT and multi-wavelength OCT from 550nm to 2000nm. OCT is applied to the non-invasive 3D volume imaging of paintings, enamels and other cultural objects to obtain subsurface microstructures and measurements of optical parameters through modelling of absorption and scattering properties of turbid media. We also applied OCT to a variety of fundamental science (soft matter physics), industrial and biomedical problems.
  • Spectral imaging: mobile spectral imaging systems are being developed in a variety of wavelength ranges for in situ spectral imaging of paintings, maps and manuscripts, to enable conservation monitoring, archaeological, architectural and art historical studies.
  • Ground-based and airborne remote imaging and sensing: 3D remote spectral imaging at stand-off distances of tens of metres, remote laser based spectroscopy at stand-off distances of tens of metres such as Raman, Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS), Laser Induced Fluorescence (LIF) spectroscopy have been developed specifically for wall paintings, archaeological sites and architectural monuments.
  • Data science: development of machine learning/AI methods for the rapid analysis of a range of spectral imaging data from reflectance spectral imaging to X-ray fluorescence spectral imaging, and multimodal spectral imaging datasets
  • Light-matter interaction: examination of the relationship between the material properties and the optical properties (including the effects of ageing) of varnish and paint material as well as the effect of laser damage on materials. Microfade spectrometry has been developed for in situ micro-destructive spectral/colour monitoring of the relative light induced fading rates of materials used on works of art.
  • Multimodal analysis using a range of complementary imaging and spectroscopic techniques for the holistic investigation of complex materials
  • Interdisciplinary research in the application of physical sciences to archaeology, history and collection care with a particular focus on the history of global connections

In her previous research, Liang also worked on Astrophysics topics such as observational cosmology, clusters of galaxies, radio interferometric telescopes and radio sources.

Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil/PhD or MSc by research exist in all the areas identified above. Further information on MPhil/PhD opportunities may be obtained from the NTU Doctoral School.

External activity

Sponsors and collaborators

Current and recent research is being carried out with the collaboration and support by the following (check the link for a full list):

University collaborations include University of Kent, University of Southampton, University of Sydney (Australia), University of Science & Technology of China, Northwest University (China), University of Science and Technology of Beijing (China), University of Western Australia, University of Curtin (Australia), University of Canterbury (New Zealand), Yale University (USA), Indiana University (USA).

Funders include AHRC, EPSRC, NERC, RCUK, EU, HEIF, Royal Society, Leverhulme Trust, English Heritage/Historic England, Max Planck Institute, National Gallery, Tate, British Museum, Science Museum, Bodleian Library, Fondation Beyeler (Switzerland), University of Zurich, National Museum of Ireland, Dunhuang Academy (China), Brooklyn Museum (USA), Innovate UK, OPUS International and National Grid.

Current externally funded projects:

  • Non-invasive micro-scale depth resolved imaging and sensing of materials in cultural heritage, Royal Society International Exchange Award (IEC\R2\202126) with CNR Italy (2021-2023)
  • From Lima to Canton and Beyond: An AI-aided heritage materials research platform for studying globalisation through art, AHRC (AH/V009745/1) - NEH UK-US bilateral funding with the Hispanic Society of America, The National Archives, Royal Botanic Gardens, Royal Horticultural Society, Royal Geographical Society, Museum of International Folk Art, Library of Congress, Getty Conservation Institute, Indiana University, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M.Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institute (2021-2024)
  • Maintaining the cutting-edge research capability of ISAAC Lab, AHRC (AH/V012460/1) (2021-)
  • Integrating Platforms for the European Research Infrastructure ON Heritage Science (IPERION HS), EU H2020-INFRAIA-2019-1 (GA no. 871034) with 67 institutions from 23 countries (2020-2023)
  • AI for DIGILAB:  A new concept in digital infrastructure for heritage materials research, AHRC (AH/T013184/1) with the National Gallery, The National Archives, The Getty Conservation Institute and Yale University (2020-2021)
  • Southeast Asian Illuminated Manuscripts: A Study of the Maritime Silk Road Using Scientific Imaging and AI, AHRC M3C DTP National Productivity Investment Fund (2117682) with the British Library (2018-2021)
  • A study of 18th to 19th-century Japanese Nanpin School Paintings through art historical and scientific material analysis, AHRC M4C DTP with the British Museum (2019-2022)
  • Innovative condition monitoring of electricity transmission asset - from science based archaeology to monitoring environmental risks on infrastructure, NERC (NE/R014868/1) and National Grid Ofgem Network Innovation Allowance (2017-2021)
  • The conservation and interpretation of vitreous materials in museums collections – a non-invasive investigation, AHRC CDP with the British Museum (AH/R001413/1) (2017-2021)
  • Conservation varnishes at the National Gallery: studying their optical and material properties, AHRC CDP with the National Gallery (AH/R00174X/1) (2017-2021)


Kogou S., Shahtahmassebi G., Lucian A., Liang H., Shui B., Zhang W., Su B., van Schaik S., From remote sensing and machine learning to the history of the Silk Road: large scale material identification on wall paintings, Scientific Report, 10, 19312, (2020)

Kogou S., Lee L., Shahtahmassebi G., Liang H., A new approach to the interpretation of XRF spectral imaging data using neural networks, X-ray Spectrometry, 2020, 1-10.

Li Y., Cheung C. S., Kogou S., Liggins F., Liang H., Standoff Raman spectroscopy for architectural interiors from 3-15 m distances, Optics Express, 27(22), 31338-31347 (2019)

Wijsman S., Neate S., Kogou S., Liang H., Uncovering the Oppenheimer Siddur: using scientific analysis to reveal the production process of a medieval illuminated Hebrew manuscript, Heritage Science, 6:15 (2018)

Ogrodzki P., Cheung C. S., Saad M.,Dahmani K.,Coxhill R., Liang H., Forsythe S. J., Rapid in situ imaging and whole genome sequencing of biofilm in neonatal feeding tubes: A clinical proof of concept, Scientific Report, Vol 7:15948 (2017)

Kogou S., Neate S., Coveney C., Miles A., Boocock D., Burgio L., Cheung C.S., Liang H., The origins of the Selden Map of China – scientific analysis of the painting materials and techniques using a holistic approach, Heritage Science, Vol 4:28 (2016)

Cheung C. S., Spring M., Liang H., Ultra-high resolution Fourier domain optical coherence tomography for old master paintings, Optics Express, Vol. 23(8), 10145-10157 (2015).

Kogou S., Lucian A., Bellesia S., Burgio L., Bailey, K., Brooks C., Liang H., A holistic multimodal approach to the non-invasive analysis of watercolour paintings, Applied Physics A. Vol. 121(3), 999-1014 (2015).

Cheung CS, Daniel J, Tokurakawa M, Clarkson WA, Liang H, High resolution Fourier domain optical coherence tomography in the 2 micron wavelength range using a broadband supercontinuum source. Optics Express, 23, 1992-2001 (2015)

Liang H, Lucian A, Lange R, Cheung C, Su B, Remote spectral imaging with simultaneous extraction of 3D topography for historical wall paintings, ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 95, 13-22 (2014)

Liang H, Advances in multispectral and hyperspectral imaging for archaeology and art conservation, Applied Physics A,106 (2), 309-323 (2012)

See all of Haida Liang's publications...

Press expertise

  • Non-invasive optical imaging of materials, in particular, imaging of cultural heritage
  • Application of physical science to archaeology, history and art conservation
  • Probing the history of global connections through scientific analysis of artist materials