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Professor Sir David Payne honoured by IEEE

Published: 26 August 2014
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ORC Director, Professor Sir David Payne's innovations have revolutionised high-speed and long-distance optical communications, optical sensing and laser processing. He has now been honoured by the world’s largest technical professional association, the IEEE, with the 2014 IEEE/RSE Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award for his ground-breaking contributions to optical fibre technologies and their application to optical communications. The presentation was made at the IEEE Honors Ceremony in Amsterdam on Saturday 23 August 2014.

David’s contributions to optical fibre technology have enabled the explosive growth of the Internet and telecommunications networks, providing the ability to efficiently transfer vast amounts of data over large distances. His innovations have revolutionised high-speed and long-distance optical communications. With pioneering fibre fabrication research spanning 40 years that has impacted practically all of today’s optical fibre technology, David's most crucial innovations were the development of the end-pumped fibre laser and the erbium-doped fibre amplifier (EDFA) during the 1980s. Still by far the most successful optical amplifier, the EDFA allows the optical signals carrying internet data to be periodically boosted within the fibre itself. This eliminated the need for expensive, capacity-choking, electronic signal regenerators and allowed today’s optical fibre transmission systems to span oceans without regeneration and with vast bandwidth. David's work made massive deployment of optical fibre networks cost-effective, and the EDFA became a key enabling technology that led to the explosive growth of the Internet.

David's current research focuses on high-power industrial fibre lasers for cutting, welding, and marking as an alternative to conventional lasers. An IEEE Member and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (UK), the Royal Society (UK) and the Russian Academy of Sciences, David is also Chairman of the Marconi Society.

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