The University of Southampton

UK’s largest photonics and electronics centre to launch in Southampton

Published: 4 September 2013

The University of Southampton is launching the largest photonics and electronics institute in the UK on Thursday 12 September.

The new Zepler Institute is a unique multidisciplinary research centre that brings together world-leading expertise in photonics, advanced materials, quantum technologies and nanoscience.

The Institute will build on the University’s pioneering discoveries in photonics and electronics that form the backbone of today’s global communications infrastructure.

For decades, researchers at Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre have enabled the development of the physical hardware through fibre optic technology that laid the foundations of the Internet, while researchers in Electronics and Computer Science are leading the way in pioneering the new discipline of Web Science to understand and develop the future uses of the World Wide Web.

The Zepler Institute will build on that reputation to provide a collaborative environment for research that will continue to deliver the solutions required to meet the global challenges of the future – from ultra-high bandwidth communication technologies, through bio-photonics for point-of-care diagnostics, to fundamental research into quantum devices and technologies, led by experts in the University's Physics, Quantum Light and Matter group.

The Zepler Institute is led by Professor Sir David Payne, Director of the University’s internationally renowned Optoelectronics Research Centre, and one of the world’s most referenced and influential researchers.

Professor Payne will deliver a special lecture entitled ‘50 Years of Photonics at the University of Southampton’ to mark the occasion and in celebration of his recently-awarded Knighthood for services to photonics.

The event will also feature a special guest lecture by Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, who is considered one of the ‘fathers’ of the Internet. Vint will be introduced by web pioneer Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Dean of Physical and Applied Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Professor Hall says: “The formation of the Zepler Institute ensures that University of Southampton continues to make pioneering breakthroughs and discoveries that will meet society’s global communication challenges. It also puts us in a leading position to develop the future of the Internet, which is the infrastructure for the World Wide Web."

“For 60 years Southampton researchers have been at the forefront of the global revolution in digital communications leading the world in web and Internet science, technology and application,” Professor Hall continues.

In fact, global access to the Internet itself relies almost entirely on Professor Payne’s invention of erbium-doped fibre amplifiers, which has made possible the worldwide information superhighway and high-speed telecommunication networks we often take for granted and which are so important to us all in the 21st century. Every time you use the Internet, your mobile phone or an ATM you are using technology developed at Southampton.

The Zepler Institute is named after Professor Eric Ernest Zepler who founded the Department of Electronics and Computer Science at University College Southampton (now University of Southampton) in 1947, which was the first in Electronics in this country, and probably in the world.

Professor Zepler made an outstanding and pioneering contribution to radio receiver development as well as to the teaching of electronics. From 3pm, researchers from across the Zepler Institute will be showcasing their work and state-of-the-art facilities.

Admission to the showcase and the lectures by Professor Payne and Vint Cerf from 5pm on Thursday, 12 September at the Highfield Campus of the University of Southampton is free though places are limited.

To reserve your place, please register online here or for further information please contact

The lectures will also be streamed live online at

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