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The University of Southampton

Dr Eric Numkam Fokoua

Royal Academy of Engineering Fellow

Dr Eric Numkam Fokoua's Photo

The University of Southampton is home to the largest photonics research centre in the UK, where landmark technologies originate. It was this centre, and its plethora of world-renowned experts, that drew Dr Numkam Fokoua to the University.

I joined Southampton about 10 years ago as a PhD student and what attracted me then is the exact thing that now keeps me here: Southampton is by far the best place where I could carry my research and maximise its impact.

Dr Numkam Fokoua came to Southampton as a PhD student about 10 years ago. His research studies the propagation of light in optical fibres and develops innovative hollow-core optical fibres for transmitting data and making optical sensors.

He explained why Southampton is the perfect location for his research: "It hosts the largest photonics research centre in the UK and probably the best optical fibre research facilities for any university in the world, with four optical fibre drawing towers and well over 90 optical labs. 

“The Optoelectronics Research Centre where I work is the originator of many landmark technologies in my research field as evidenced by the 15 or so local spinout companies it has set up. The best part of all is that I am surrounded by world renowned experts from whom I am constantly learning.”

In 2019, Dr Numkam Fokoua was awarded a five-year Fellowship from the Royal Academy of Engineering. Through this, he is targeting a hundredfold improvement in gyroscope performance through a new generation of optical fibres.

Dr Numkam Fokoua said: “My vision is to develop highly precise, hollow-core fibre based sensors to provide assured awareness to people and systems. There is a large number of emerging applications which require significant improvements in navigation, pointing and positioning accuracy.

“For example, in the aerospace sector, low-earth orbit satellites, microsatellites and small, reconfigurable communications geo-satellites will benefit tremendously from low-cost, lightweight and ultraprecise pointing systems. Closer to home, autonomous vehicles will require very precise inertial navigation systems capable of functioning in the absence of GPS signals. Gyroscopes lie at the heart of inertial measurement units used in these systems and my research is to develop gyros capable of a hundredfold improvement in precision over existing solutions.”

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