The University of Southampton

Optical fibre pioneer, David Payne, receives prestigious award from the IEEE

Published: 12 March 2007

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology, has named Professor David Payne of the Optoelectronics Research Centre as the recipient of its prestigious 2007 Photonics Award. The IEEE Photonics Award was established in 2002 and Payne’s is the first award outside the USA.

The award recognizes Professor Payne’s outstanding pioneering contributions to the development and commercialization of optical fibre-based technologies for communications, sensors and high-power applications.

David Payne is director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton. A leading international researcher who has spent his entire career spanning four decades with the University, David has generated many influential discoveries in diverse areas of photonics, from telecommunications and optical sensors to nanophotonics and optical materials.

David Payne led the teams that invented the single mode silica fibre laser and amplifier and broke the kilowatt barrier for the output power of a fibre laser. Some of the highest power fibre lasers in the world have been designed by David and his team. He has also pioneered a host of fibre components for sensor applications, involving many novel materials and devices that have significantly improved functionality. In addition, his team created the erbium-doped fibre amplifier which brought about a revolution in optical-fibre communications, and which underpins the Internet today.

As a leading University entrepreneur, David’s activities have led to a photonics cluster of nine companies surrounding the ORC, creating jobs and wealth in the local community. Two of the companies are located on the University of Southampton Science Park, namely Sensa and Fibercore. With colleagues, he founded SPI Lasers plc, a leading supplier of high power fibre lasers located at Hedge End. In 2005 SPI lasers successfully floated on the AIM where it is currently valued at around £50M.

University of Southampton Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bill Wakeham, comments: ‘The IEEE awards programme pays tribute to leading researchers whose exceptional achievements have made a lasting impact on technology and society. David Payne has made a huge personal contribution to developments in photonics and telecommunications and richly deserves to be honoured with this award.’

The award will be presented to David at the 2007 Conference on Optical Fiber Communications – OFC 2007 Collocated National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference in Anaheim, California, on the 27 March.


Notes for editors

About the IEEE

1. The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.) is the world’s largest technical professional society. Through its 365,000 members in 160 countries, the society is a leading authority on a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics. Dedicated to the advancement of technology, the IEEE publishes 30 percent of the world’s literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields, and has developed more than 900 active industry standards. The organization also sponsors or co-sponsors nearly 400 international technical conferences each year. Information on the Photonics Award is available at

2. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. It is one of the UK’s top 10 research universities, offering first-rate opportunities and facilities for study and research across a wide range of subjects in humanities, health, science and engineering. The University has around 20,000 students and over 5000 staff. Its annual turnover is in the region of £310 million.

The University of Southampton is one of the country’s top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine, and has a strong enterprise agenda. It is home to a range of world-leading research centres, including the Optoelectronics Research Centre, the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, and the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies.

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