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Professor Sir David Payne

Professor of Photonics

Research interests

  • Many and varied across photonics, particularly in optical fibre design and fabrication, optical materials, optical sensing, and high-power fibre lasers.

More research


Address: B46, West Highfield Campus, University Road, SO17 1BJ (View in Google Maps)

How to update your personal details

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Job title 
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Research interests (for researchers only) 
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In Pure (opens in a new tab), select ‘Edit profile’. Under the heading 'Curriculum and research description', select 'Add profile information'. In the dropdown menu, select 'Research interests: use separate lines'.

Contact details 
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Accepting PhD applicants (for researchers only) 
Choose to show whether you’re currently accepting PhD applicants or not in Pure (opens in a new tab). Select ‘Edit profile’. In the 'Portal details' section, select 'Yes' or 'No' to indicate your choice. 


Professor Sir David Neil Payne CBE FRS FREng is a leading Professor at the University of Southampton and Director of the Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics/Optoelectronics Research Centre. A world class pioneer of technology, his work has had a great impact on telecommunications and laser technology over the last forty years. The vast transmission capacity of today’s internet results directly from the erbium-doped fibre amplifier (EDFA) invented by David and his team in the 1980s. His pioneering work in fibre fabrication in the 70s resulted in almost all the special fibres in use today including fibre lasers which are undergoing rapid growth for application in manufacturing and defence.

David has made numerous leading contributions to many diverse fields of photonics and is widely acknowledged as an inventor of key components. With US funding, he led the team that broke the kilowatt barrier for fibre laser output to international acclaim and now holds many other fibre laser performance records. An original member of the Highly Cited Researchers (USA) he is honoured as one of the most referenced, influential researchers in the world. He has published over 650 Conference and Journal papers.

As an entrepreneur David’s activities have led to a cluster of 11 photonics spin out companies in and around Southampton - helping to boost the local economy. He co-founded SPI Lasers, now owned by Trumpf Group. He is an Emeritus Chairman of the Marconi Society and a current Board member.  He is foreign member of the Russian and Norwegian Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) and the Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE). David is a fellow of the Optical Society of America, the IET (UK), the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. He holds three honorary Professorships from Chinese Universities. He co-founded The Photonics Institute in NTU that has grown to be the leading photonics institute in Singapore.

For his work, David has been recognised by many prizes and award, a selection of which are:

1975 1990 IEE Electronics Divisional Board Award (5 times)

Gyr and Landis Instrumentation Prize (2 times)

1982 Academic Enterprise Award for establishing York Technology

1986 Queens Award for Industry (York Technology)

1991 IEEE/OSA John Tyndall Award (USA)

1991 Rank Prize for Optics (UK)

1993 Computers and Communications Award (Japan)

1994 NASTS (USA) Real Advances in Materials Award

1998 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Engineering - Franklin Institute USA

2000 ISI Certificate for one of the world’s most cited authors

2000 Barons Who’s Who “The Europe 500 Leaders for the next century”

2001 2001 Basic Research Award of the Eduard Rhein Foundation, Germany

2001 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards finalist

2001 Mountbatten Medal of the IEE for outstanding contributions to electronics

2002 ISI Certificate for Highly Cited Researchers – original member

2004 Kelvin Medal of the 8 major UK engineering institutions

2005 Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award finalist (SPI Lasers)

2006 IEEE Photonics Award for outstanding achievements in photonics

2007 Marconi Prize and Fellowship

2008 Millennium Prize Laureate

2009 ICT 2008 Hall of Fame (25 leading figures who have made a unique contribution to the development of ICT and the Web organised by the European Commission's Directorate General for the Information Society and Media

2010 AILU (Association of Laser Users) Award (2010)

2010 Named as one of SPIE’s 24 Laser Luminaries for the 50th Anniversary of the Laser

2014 IEEE/RSE Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award

2015 Engineering and Physical Sciences RISE Fellow

2015 Voted one of Britain’s 500 most influential people by Debrett’s/Sunday Times

2016 Again voted one of Britain’s 500 most influential people by Debrett’s/Sunday Times

2016 Awarded Honorary Degree for Doctor of Engineering, honoris causa – Nanyang Technical University, Singapore

2017 Voted one of Britain’s 500 most influential people by Debrett’s/Sunday Times

2018 The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education awarded to the ORC

How to update your 'about' section

You can update this in Pure (opens in a new tab). Select ‘Edit profile’. Under the heading and then ‘Curriculum and research description’, select ‘Add profile information’. In the dropdown menu, select - ‘About’.

Write about yourself in the third person. Aim for 100 to 150 words covering the main points about who you are and what you currently do. Clear, simple language is best. You can include specialist or technical terms.

You’ll be able to add details about your research, publications, career and academic history to other sections of your staff profile.

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