The University of Southampton

ORC celebrates as record number of fellowships awarded

Published: 5 July 2007

The Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton is celebrating this week as two of its researchers have been awarded fellowships from the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. Never before has the ORC received two fellowships from these organisations in one year. This latest news highlights the ORC’s excellent track record in receiving recognition and support from leading organisations. This brings the total number of fellowships awarded by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering to an impressive total of seven since 1993.
The five-year fellowships awarded to Dr Gilberto Brambilla and Dr Anna Peacock will give them the chance to develop their own research groups and generate even more opportunities for groundbreaking research, helping to strengthen the ORC’s reputation as a leading photonics research centre.

Dr Gilberto Brambilla’s Royal Society Fellowship will enable him to investigate new aspects of optical fibre nanowires and related devices. Gilberto will be working on extremely small fibres at the nanometre scale. This means that the actual fibres will be smaller than the wavelength of the light propagating inside the fibres themselves. More importantly, a considerable fraction of the light propagates outside of the physical boundary of the optical fibre nanowire. Unlike conventional waveguides which act as pipes carrying light inside their physical boundary, sub-wavelength wires act as rails, on which the light is guided. It is therefore possible to exploit this property to fabricate devices with significant implications for emerging fibre optic applications, including high-Q resonators and chemical and biological sensors.

Dr Anna Peacock learnt that she had been awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship earlier this year (9 May 2007). Anna is currently a member of the Photonic, Electronic and Plasmonic Microstructured Optical Fibre Group but this fellowship will eventually allow her to build an independent research group. Her research project is based on impregnating semiconductors into tiny holes running down microstructured optical fibres similar in size to a human hair. Using this technology Anna will design and develop a range of ‘all-fibre’ devices that exploit both the data processing properties of semiconductors and the structural flexibility of optical fibres. The resulting fibres will then form the basis of a number of next-generation devices, including amplifiers, lasers and sensors, with applications in fields ranging from optical telecommunications to spectroscopy as well as biological and environmental sensing.

‘Fellowships from the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering are highly sought after and receiving two in one year is an impressive success rate for the ORC,’ comments Professor David Payne, Director of the ORC. ‘I am extremely proud to see that the careers of our researchers are being supported by such prestigious organisations and I look forward to seeing some of the results that Gilberto and Anna generate with their groups.’

The Royal Society receives over 400 applications and awards approximately 30 fellowships each year and the Royal Academy of Engineering received in the region of 160 applications this year and offered only 14 fellowships.

Posted by Marketing Officer, on 4 July 2007

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