The University of Southampton

Professor David Payne gives first Faculty Distinguished Lecture

Published: 27 January 2011

The first Faculty of Physical and Applied Sciences Distinguished Lecture was given this week by Professor David Payne, Director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre.

Describing David Payne as the new Faculty’s ‘greatest asset’, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Dean, said that he had brought prestige and major research funding to the University and ‘awards, honours and success’. She also paid tribute to his loyalty to the University, which he joined as an undergraduate student in 1963, and to his development and leadership of the Optoelectronics Research Centre.

One of the world’s leading researchers in photonics and fibre lasers, David Payne has undertaken research which has established Southampton as a global force in optical fibre communications and laser technology. He has won a string of awards recognizing his research breakthroughs which have transformed the world’s telecommunications.

In his lecture, entitled ‘Photonics: The Century of Light’, Professor Payne considered the continuing huge potential of optical fibres and the future opportunities this represents for the new Faculty of Physical and Applied Sciences.

He explained the key role that photonics had played in powering the optical fibre internet with its huge global reach, and examined how this had happened. With no end in sight to the current demand for increased connectivity Professor Payne called for more photonics, reaching further into the network with optics to overcome the existing bottlenecks and employing next-generation optical components.

He also demonstrated that the great success of optical fibres and planar circuits in telecommunications has generated numerous applications in a number of related fields, such as sensing, bio- and nano-photonics and high-power lasers. Incredibly, the same fibres that carry tiny internet signals can also generate kilowatts of power, sufficient to cut through inch-thick steel. Southampton has an enviable track record of innovation in ICT and photonics. Building new technologies and applications through harnessing the properties of new optical materials, devices and structures is, he suggested, a huge opportunity for our new Faculty.

You can watch a video of the lecture at:

The next Faculty of Physical and Applied Sciences Distinguished Lecture takes place on Thursday 12 May and will be given by Professor Tony Hey, former Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, and now Corporate Vice-President for External Research at Microsoft.

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