The University of Southampton

A new Director for the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton

Published: 1 August 2023
Professor Graham Reed

Professor Graham Reed has been appointed the new Director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC). The announcement follows the stepping down of former Director, Sir David Payne, who will now focus on research and enterprise activities.

David has served the ORC as Director for 28 years and, in this time, he led the ORC to world prominence in research and enterprise. During his tenure, the ORC has been at the forefront of photonics research, achieving breakthroughs in optical fibre, lasers, waveguides, devices and optoelectronic materials. Inventions created at the ORC now power the internet, cut and weld steel, are on the moon, Mars and the space station. In recognition of the ORC’s world-leading expertise, the University of Southampton was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2018. Under Sir David, the ORC has built strong links with industry, research institutions and universities around the world. In 2014, it launched The Photonics Institute with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore and the entrepreneurial activities at the ORC have resulted in the creation of a “photonics valley” cluster of 11 substantial companies in the local area.

David is also recognised for his academic achievements. His work in fibre fabrication resulted in most of the special fibres used today, including the revolutionary erbium-doped fibre amplifier (EDFA) which powers the internet. Consequently, he became a Commander of the British Empire in 2007 and was knighted in the 2013 New Years Honours list.

Professor Graham Reed will be taking over as Director of the ORC in August 2023. David said: “The ORC is fortunate to have the leadership of Graham Reed, a research pioneer in Silicon Photonics.  Under him the ORC is in safe hands and I look forward to the next phase of our development.  We have been in existence in one form or another for nearly 60 years and this change will further strengthen our global presence.”

Graham is a founding pioneer of the field of Silicon Photonics worldwide. Silicon Photonics has revolutionised data centre communications and is beginning to impact every aspect of modern life from artificial intelligence to computing, healthcare to imaging, and security to environmental monitoring.

Regarding his recent appointment as Director, Graham said: “I am honoured that the University have chosen me to lead the prestigious ORC. I must of course pay tribute to Sir David Payne for his extraordinary service to both the University and the ORC, establishing and consolidating our position one of the world’s premier photonics institutes over such an extended period. I very much look forward to working with the amazing staff and students at Southampton to write the next chapter of the story.”

Graham founded the Silicon Photonics Group in 1989 at the University of Surrey where he later became head of the Department of Electronic Engineering. In April 2012, Graham brought his team to the University of Southampton and, since then, he has contributed to its world-leading reputation in his role as Deputy Director. His group has made significant contributions to almost all aspects of Silicon Photonics, most notably in high speed optical modulators. He and his team are particularly well-known for having published the first design of a depletion modulator, now an industry standard, as well as numerous landmark high-speed modulator milestones over the past two decades.

In his role as Deputy Director, Graham has acted as a Principal and Co-Investigator on grants amounting to over £67 million, published almost 650 journal and conference papers, and authored 23 patent applications. He has also supervised 48 PhD students, including photonics leaders such as Andrew Rickman, the founder of Bookham Technology and Rockley Photonics, and Goran Mashanovich, a Professor within the Silicon Photonics group at the ORC.

Graham is also a founder of start-up company Pointcloud Inc. that has now demonstrated the world’s leading results for an integrated LIDAR system and he has acted as a technical advisor to numerous companies, including Intel (USA), Anello Photonics (USA) and CompoundTek (Singapore).

He has received worldwide acclaim for his technical contributions and international leadership roles. He is a regular invited and contributing author to major Silicon Photonics conferences around the world. He is currently a member of 6 international conference committees, including serving as co-chair of the Silicon Photonics symposium at SPIE Photonics West conference. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the SPIE, the IET, Optica and the European Optical Society (EOS).

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