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Future Photonics Leaders Awards: The Team '96 Prize Winner for 2022 - Tongjun Liu

Published: 15 May 2023
Tongjun receiving his award from Prof Sir David Payne

High-performing Southampton PhD photonics students have been recognised for their excellence and achievements in the annual Professor Sir David Payne Student Scholar Award and Team ’96 Prizes.

Two exceptional Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) PhD students were selected by a panel of judges selected from the ORC senior staff for their outstanding efforts across their studies. The prestigious awards have been acknowledged by previous winners as opening doors for collaboration, boosting confidence, and enhancing their CVs.

Sir David Payne, Director of the ORC, said: ’’I am so proud to recognise the outstanding performance of all our students, but especially Panuwat Srisaman and Tongjun Liu who have excelled.  Well done and I look forward to even greater achievements as your careers progress.


Funded by Southampton ORC alumnus Prof Anatoly Grudinin, the prize recognises outstanding achievements by one student in the final year of their PhD. Anatoly was at the ORC for 10 years during which time he pioneered short-pulse fibre lasers, soliton transmission systems, and cladding-pumped fibre lasers as a Research Fellow and Professor. He left the ORC to launching his highly successful fibre laser company, Fianium (now NKT). The Team ’96 Prize is a tribute to a highly prolific research period at the ORC when Anatoly was with us. The winner receives a cash prize of £5,000.

Tongjun was nominated for outstanding academic performance and inspirational attitude to working in his foundational research on ‘’Pictophotonics’. His outstanding dissemination records include 7 (published/submitted) high-impact journals and 22 conference papers at major international meetings. His research in Nano to pico motion is of technological importance and scientific interest, especially in contexts of 2D materials and photonics metamaterials.

Tongjun’s supervisor Prof Kevin Macdonald says: ’’Tongjun has done remarkable work on the development and application of novel techniques for visualizing and optically controlling atomic scale thermal and driven motion in photonic nanostructures. We are delighted that he has chosen to begin his postdoctoral career at the ZI, to build on this foundation and open up the exciting domain of ‘picophotonics’.”

Tongjun says: ’’It was a great honour to receive the Team '96 Future Leader Award. This has been a pivotal moment in my career thus far.  It has not only recognised my achievements but also validated my research ideas, bolstering my confidence to pursue them further. As a result of this accolade, I have been inspired to take up the mantle of a leader in the field of photonics and continue to make significant contributions to growth and development. I am deeply grateful for this recognition, and I am excited to see where it will take me in the future’’.

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