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The University of Southampton

Optoelectronics Research Centre director awarded CBE

Published: 14 June 2004

Professor David Payne, Director of the University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), has been appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours announced today (Saturday 12 June). Professor Payne has been recognised for his services to photonics.

Professor Payne is an internationally renowned scientist with over 35 years experience in optical telecommunications. He is credited with numerous inventions in photonics and has been for many years recognised as one of the leaders in the field. He led the team that invented the erbium-doped fibre amplifier, which powers the Internet, and is responsible for many other key advances in optical fibre technology. His team's latest record-breaking work on high-power fibre lasers capable of punching through 50 mm of steel is attracting worldwide attention. The Optoelectronics Research Centre, of which he is Director, is one of the best-known photonics research laboratories in the world.

Professor Payne commented: "I am delighted to receive this honour. It gives me particular pleasure that this award recognises the cutting-edge research into photonics that the University of Southampton has championed for the past thirty five years. Southampton was the first university to undertake work in this area back in the 1960s and I would like to pay tribute to my fellow researchers, both past and present, who have helped to keep Southampton at the forefront of photonics research since then."

Professor Payne is Chairman and Director of Southampton Photonics Inc, an international spin-out company from the University of Southampton which manufactures several of his inventions. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Optical Society of America and the Royal Society of Arts. This year he celebrates his fortieth year at the University of Southampton, which he joined as an undergraduate in 1964.

Professor Bill Wakeham, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, commented: "This honour is extremely well deserved. David Payne has made an outstanding international contribution to the field of photonics, and today leads the largest photonics research group in Europe, developing new and exciting advances in optical technology. He has also led the exploitation of intellectual property in the same field and created a very successful spin-out company."

Notes for editors

  1. Photonics is the merging of physical, optical, electronic, chemical and materials sciences to develop newer, faster and more efficient ways of exploiting the properties of light.
  2. In less than 30 years, photonics has had an enormous impact on almost every facet of our lives, in areas as diverse as telecommunications, manufacturing, aerospace, medicine and entertainment. So far, enough optical fibre cable has been installed to circle the earth thousands of times. Yet, despite this rapid progress, photonics still has its future ahead of it. It will continue to change our lives and expand our opportunities as much, if not more dramatically than telecommunications, aircraft, television and computers have done in the past.
  3. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for pioneering research and scholarship. The University has over 19,200 students and 4800 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £250 million.
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