Thomas C. Wilkes

Thomas Wilkes

The development of low-cost tools for volcano monitoring and research

Supervisors: Dr Andrew McGonigle and Dr Robert Bryant
Start Date: September 2015
Funding: Department of Geography Scholarship

Current Research

My PhD research makes use of low-cost CMOS sensors, primarily designed for the smartphone market, to develop relatively cheap, ground-based remote sensing systems. The primary application of these systems is in volcano monitoring/research, however, there may be a broad range of further applications for these instruments. The sensor used in my case is incorporated into a Raspberry Pi (R-Pi) camera module, which provides versatile control of the system. By modifying the sensor, through removal of its Bayer filter array, I have improved its sensitivity in UV and NIR wavelengths, and thus facilitated a number of new applications. To date, I have developed a UV sulphur dioxide (SO2) camera and tested it in a volcanic setting. I am currently building and testing a UV spectrometer, which will enable SO2 retrievals through differential optical absorption spectroscopy (DOAS). Future work will include the development and application of a thermal camera, utilising the NIR sensitivity of the R-Pi camera sensor.


McGonigle, A.J.; Wilkes, T.C.; Pering, T.D.; Willmott, J.R.; Cook, J.M.; Mims, F.M.; Parisi, A.V. Smartphone Spectrometers. Sensors 2018, 18, 223.

Wilkes, T.C.; Stanger, L.R.; Willmott, J.R.; Pering, T.D.; McGonigle, A.J.S.; England, R.A. The Development of a Low-Cost, Near Infrared, High-Temperature Thermal Imaging System and Its Application to the Retrieval of Accurate Lava Lake Temperatures at Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 450.

Stanger, L.R.; Wilkes, T.C.; Boone, N.A.; McGonigle, A.J.S.; Willmott, J.R. Thermal Imaging Metrology with a Smartphone Sensor. Sensors 2018, 18, 2169.

McGonigle, A.J.S.; Pering, T.D.; Wilkes, T.C.; Tamburello, G.; D’Aleo, R.; Bitetto, M.; Aiuppa, A.; Willmott, J.R. Ultraviolet Imaging of Volcanic Plumes: A New Paradigm in Volcanology. Geosciences 2017, 7, 68.

Wilkes T. C.; McGonigle A. J. S.; Willmott J. R.; Pering T. D.; Cook J. M. Low-cost 3D printed 1  nm resolution smartphone sensor-based spectrometer: instrument design and application in ultraviolet spectroscopy. Opt. Lett. 2017, 42, 4323-4326

Wilkes, T.C.; Pering, T.D.; McGonigle, A.J.S.; Tamburello, G.; Willmott, J.R. A Low-Cost Smartphone Sensor-Based UV Camera for Volcanic SO2 Emission Measurements. Remote Sens. 2017, 9, 27.

Wilkes, T.C.; McGonigle, A.J.S.; Pering, T.D.; Taggart, A.J.; White, B.S.; Bryant, R.G.; Willmott, J.R. Ultraviolet Imaging with Low Cost Smartphone Sensors: Development and Application of a Raspberry Pi-Based UV Camera. Sensors 2016, 16, 1649

Academic Background

Environmental Geoscience (MSci), University of Bristol, 2010-2014, First Class with Honours.

Contact Details

Address: Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Winter Street, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK
Twitter: @Thomas_Wilkes1