The University of Southampton

Southampton laser pioneer acclaimed with international optics and photonics prize

Published: 9 February 2021
Professor Anne Tropper

Professor Anne Tropper has been honoured with the 2021 SPIE Maiman Laser Award for pioneering contributions during a dynamic research career at the University of Southampton.

Anne is a founding member of the Optoelectronics Research Centre, based in the Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics, and maintains her longstanding connection with Southampton to this day as an Emeritus Professor.

The prestigious honour from the international society for optics and photonics recognises the physicist's key advancements in rare-earth doped fibre and optically pumped semiconductor lasers.

Anne says: "I am deeply honoured to receive this prize named after Theodore Maiman, creator of the first working laser. It is a testament to the vision of the individuals at Southampton who set up the Laser Physics Group and gave so much support and encouragement to my endeavours.

"My original realisation of lasers constructed not around optical rods but optical fibres, embodying a paradigm shift that transformed every aspect of the physics and engineering of these light sources. As a result, we have lasers and amplifiers that are sturdy, energy-efficient, broad-band and spectrally versatile, with transformative impact in technologies ranging from data communications to surgery to industrial production."

The Southampton professor's influence in optical physics over the past 40 years has touched the work of many groups in fields that include fibre lasers and amplifiers, upconversion lasers, spin dynamics in semiconductors, and ultrafast semiconductor laser physics.

Professor Sir David Payne, Director of the Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics, says: "Anne was a founding member of the Optoelectronics Research Centre in 1989. With David Hanna she was the first to show that ytterbium-doped silica fibres could be used as an optical gain medium, a discovery that today forms the basis of the high-power fibre laser market for industrial manufacturing. Congratulations to Anne for her well-deserved award."

New fibre lasers first reported by Anne's group at Southampton include thulium and holmium silica in the mid-infrared, and infrared-pumped visible lasers based on praseodymium-doped fluoride glass.

The SPIE Maiman Laser Award is named in honour of Theodore Maiman, an American physicist and engineer who is widely credited with the invention of the laser. The honour was established in 2020 and recognises sustained contributions to laser source science and technology at the highest levels.

SPIE's 2021 society awards have been announced for 21 distinguished recipients whose achievements span a wide range of light-based sciences and key advancements made by these technologies in areas including medicine, astronomy, lithography and optical metrology.

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