The University of Southampton

UK-India optical fibre research collaboration wins major award

Published: 22 January 2007

The Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton is one of the recipients of the first UK-India Education and Research Initiative Major Awards announced yesterday (18 January) by Chancellor Gordon Brown during his tour of India.

Southampton is part of a research consortium coordinated by City University, London, and including Strathclyde, Nottingham and Heriot Watt Universities. The consortium will be conducting research with the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. The UKIERI major award of £0.5M is for four years and is one of only six granted.

The UKIERI awards support collaboration between UK and Indian research teams in areas of interest and benefit to both countries, and are part of the biggest ever education initiative between the two countries. A total of over £5 million was awarded to teams from over 70 institutions in the UK and India, in six major and 23 standard awards.

Photonic devices and optical fibres form the backbone of today's information technology revolution through high-speed optical telecommunications. This collaborative research project aims to exploit the enormous potential of Microstructured Optical Fibres (MOFs), one of the newest concepts in fibre optics, to come up with new technologies to underpin the multi-billion pound industry of optical communications and measurement systems. MOFs are similar in size to a human hair, but have tiny holes running down their entire length giving them remarkable properties, such as the ability to generate intense white light for use in movie projectors. Southampton has pioneered the development of MOF technology and in the project will design, develop and fabricate novel fibres and materials for use in for a wide variety of applications, such as ultra high speed switching for next- generation telecoms.

Welcoming the award, Professor David Payne, Director of the ORC, said: 'This new international research collaboration, in which Southampton is a major player, will seek solutions to contemporary and topical research problems associated with our increasing need for high-speed global telecommunications. International research links play a key role in helping to find answers to the challenges facing the world and I am delighted that UKIERI is supporting research in this way. India is a natural partner for the UK with our historic links and the Indian government is investing heavily in high technology.'

Notes for editors

1. The UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) is an initiative aimed at improving research and education links between India and the UK. It is supported by the UK Government as well as Industrial sponsors including Rolls-Royce, BP, GlaxoSmithKline, BAE Systems and Shell. The Standard and Major Awards provided by the initiative are a key part of its programme to encourage and support research between the two countries. Major Awards provide a maximum of £500,000 per project. Other Major award winners include: University of Cambridge and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology Hyderabad, University of Nottingham and the Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Lucknow, University of Leicester and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Walker Institute, University of Reading and Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune and City University and Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. For more information about UKIERI, visit

2. The Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton is one of the largest university-based research groups entirely devoted to optoelectronics in the world, and has maintained a position at the forefront of photonics research for over four decades. Its long and well established track record in the fields of optical fibre, lasers, waveguides, devices and optoelectronic materials has fostered innovation, enterprise, cross-boundary and multi-disciplinary activities. It has built strong links with industry, research institutions and universities around the world, from informal collaborations to large-scale funding. Several spin out companies, including Southampton Photonics plc, Stratophase Ltd, Mesophotonics Ltd and ChG Southampton Ltd, have commercialized the fruits of ORC research; while its extensive outreach programme has brought lasers and optical fibres into schools across the country.

3. 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.

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