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Fiber-Optics Pioneer Wins Marconi Prize

June 2, 2008

Professor David N. Payne was recognized for his work in the fields of fiber optoelectronics and fiber telecommunications. His best-known invention is the erbium-doped fiber amplifier, which propelled the growth of the Internet by enabling the cost-effective long-distance transmission of vast amounts of data.


NEW YORK /BUSINESS WIRE/ -- Professor David N. Payne, pioneering researcher in photonics and Director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton in the U.K., has been named the 2008 Marconi Fellow and Prize winner for his work in the fields of fiber optoelectronics and fiber telecommunications, the backbone of modern high-speed data transmission.

The Marconi Prize annually recognizes a living scientist for contributions to communications and information technology. Recent winners have included Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, RSA encryption co-inventor Ron Rivest, high-speed modem inventor John Cioffi, and turbo codes discoverer Professor Claude Berrou.

Payne's best-known invention is the erbium-doped fiber amplifier (EDFA), an optical amplifier that became the basis of fiber telecommunications systems and propelled the growth of the Internet by enabling the cost-effective long-distance transmission of vast amounts of data. Today a single EDFA can amplify up to 10 Tbps of information, enough for nearly a million high-definition television channels.

A professor of photonics and member of the University of Southampton faculty for 40 years, Payne has had a major impact on areas ranging from telecommunications and optical sensors to nanophotonics and optical materials. In addition to the EDFA, his research group is credited with the discovery of the diode-pumped silica fiber laser, now widely used in manufacturing and defense. His work has led to the launch of ten companies, including York Technologies (now part of PK Technology Inc.) and publicly traded SPI Lasers plc.

He became the director of the ORC in 1995.

Payne's many awards and honors include top American, European, and Japanese prizes in photonics, an Eduard Rhein Laureate (Germany), and the Mountbatten Medal of the IEE. He has received the Kelvin Medal of the eight major engineering institutions and the IEEE Photonics Award and recently was elected to the Russian Academy of Sciences as one of only 240 foreign members. He also is a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Academy of Engineering.


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