Border Crossings:

A Case for Collaborative Practice between Physics and Craft


Karen's experimental and practice-based doctoral research initially brought together physics and craft to develop the power and efficiency of solar lasers, which later developed into an open enquiry to locate collaborative opportunities between these disciplines. This research enabled Karen to apply her skills to renewable energy and scientific problems, allowing her to gain a unique perspective to her source of creative ideas and making.


Karen conducted her research at the University of Dundee which was funded by EPSRC (2010116).


In the first phase, custom Compound Parabolic Concentrators (CPCs) were developed using craft processing and scientific characterization to improve the efficiency of a solid state Nd:YAG solar laser. In the second phase, a Fresnel lens was adopted to concentrate solar light to process materials for craft purposes. Lastly, grounded theory was developed through data collected to form a case study on the collaborative process: including group interviews with participants who were collaborators in the research.


Findings confirmed that there are benefits to working collaboratively between the fields of physics and craft and the research demonstrated how knowledge exchange can develop new processes. Finally, the grounded theory created from this research, outlined how individuals currently collaborate in interdisciplinary projects and offers future direction for interdisciplinary opportunities between the scientific and creative fields.


Find out more about this doctoral research via ORCiD

The video is a recording of a research exhibition on 'Solar Concentration in Physics & Craft' by Karen Westland, in Nov 2019.

Solar lasers use sunlight to generate energy and are a novel form of renewable energy. Karen responded to the laser science through collage to closely interact with new concepts such as TEM modes.