Professor Sir David Payne

Professor Sir David Payne

Professor of Photonics

Research interests

  • high-power fibre lasers
  • spun fibres for control of dispersion, now extensively used in undersea fibre cables
  • the Er/Yb cladding-pumped fibre amplifier used for cable television distribution

More research

Connect with Sir David


Prof D. N. Payne is an internationally distinguished research pioneer in photonics, having been in the field for over 50 years. Optical fibre technology is one of the greatest scientific successes of the last three decades and Payne’s contributions are acknowledged as seminal in many areas.  Optical fibres underpin the internet, provide new laser capability and environmental sensing, and drive growth to the benefit of all nations.

Payne’s work spans many diverse areas of photonics, from telecommunications and optical sensors to nanophotonics and optical materials. As others have noted, with his colleagues he has made many of the key technical achievements in almost every area of optical fibre technologies and his work has had a direct impact on worldwide telecommunications, as well as nearly all fields of optical R&D. As a result, he is the most highly honoured UK scientist in photonics.

David’s pioneering work in fibre fabrication in the 70’s resulted in almost all the special fibres in use today.  He led the team that in 1985 first announced the silica fibre laser and the Erbium-Doped Optical Amplifier (EDFA), the device that fuelled an explosive growth in the internet through its ability to transmit and amplify vast amounts of data.  The EDFA is widely regarded as being one of the foremost and most significant developments in modern telecommunications.  

David is widely regarded as a charismatic and influential speaker, with extensive international experience.  He is known throughout the world and is much in demand as a Plenary Speaker for his insight in a diverse range of scientific topics. 

He has published over 650 Conference and Journal papers and been awarded the top American, European and Japanese prizes in photonics, a rare achievement.  

As well as the UK Rank Prize for Optics and the prestigious US Tyndall Award, he is a Franklin Laureate (USA), an Eduard Rhein Laureate (Europe) and a Millennium Prize Laureate.  He is also an original member of the Highly Cited Researchers (USA) where he is honoured as one of the most referenced, influential researchers in the field and a Thomson REUTERS Citation Laureate. 

In 2013, he was Knighted for services to photonics in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours and in 2018 with his colleagues won the Queen's Anniversary Prize that celebrates excellence, innovation and public benefit in work carried out by UK universities.