Who will you be working with? Researchers. Entrepreneurs. Engineers: our world-leading team has demonstrated astonishing success innovating ideas for advanced materials, devices and new technology platforms - enhancing UK capability in high-value manufacturing.


Professor Sir David Neil Payne CBE FRS FREng is a leading Professor at the University of Southampton and Director of the 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 of the special fibres in use today including fibre lasers which are currently 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. Currently, his main research interest is high-power fibre lasers. With US funding, he led Our 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 and is a frequent plenary and invited speaker at major international optics conferences.

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 founded SPI Lasers PLC, which has since been purchased by the Trumpf Corporation of Germany for $40M.

Elected Chairman of the Marconi Society and to the Russian Academy of Sciences, David is a fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. He became a Commander of the British Empire in the 2007 New Years Honours list.

In addition he has been awarded the top American, European and Japanese prizes in photonics. Recent awards include the Marconi Prize in 2008 and the 2007 IEE Photonics Award the first to be awarded to a person outside the USA. Most recently, in 2010, David received the AILU (Association of Laser Users) Award for his pioneering work with fibre lasers.


Professor Jon Heffernan is professor of semiconductor materials and devices and director of the EPSRC National Centre for III-V Technologies at Sheffield. Prior to joining the University he spent eighteen years in corporate research as director of Advanced Optoelectronics in Sharp Corporation. In this role he was responsible for development of a range of new technologies including lasers, LEDs, solar cells and nanomaterials and is well known for pioneering development of MBE growth of nitride lasers.

Jon has extensive experience of developing technologies from basic research through to technology transfer in to mass production and has worked closely with development and production units in the UK, Japan, US, and China. He has led groups of scientists and engineers in collaborative programmes with leading Universities in the UK and Europe and has published 58 papers and 39 patents.

In his current role in the department of electronic and electrical engineering in Sheffield he is responsible for leading the extensive epitaxy and device work of the National Centre as well as continuing his own research interests in new semiconductor devices and materials. As co-director for the Future Photonics Hub he leads the development of sources and detectors and has responsibility for the grand challenge themes in the Hub.


Gilberto Brambilla is a professor at the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton and co-Director for the Future Photonics Hub, where he has responsibility for research on the platforms in the Hub. His experience as director of the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Photonics until 2015 and employment with the ORC since 2002 has allowed Gilberto to demonstrate his flair for groundbreaking research and applications development.

He obtained his MSc (Material Engineering) with honours from Politecnico di Milano (Italy) and his PhD degree in Optoelectronics from the ORC in 2002. In 2007 he was awarded the prestigious Research Fellowship from the Royal Society.

His research interests include: material structuring using fs lasers; manufacture of UV fibre lasers; fabrication of devices based on optical fibre nanowires, fibre tapers and couplers; manufacture of silica nanowires for high strength applications; design and fabrication of rare earth doped scintillating fibres; fabrication of delivery fibres and systems; and design of special fibres and fibre combiners for the preservation of high brightness in fibre-diode coupled high power fibre lasers. He has published >300 papers in international scientific journals/conferences, authored 4 patents and given more than 30 invited talks over the 5 continents.


Dr John Lincoln specialises in brokering partnerships in the photonics sector and evaluating new market opportunities leveraged by optoelectronic technology. John has over 20 years experience in the laser and optics industry and has evaluated the full range of photonic applications from semi-conductor inspection, materials processing, sensing, telecommunications and displays.

John maintains close contact with those developing the latest photonics innovations, from basic components to complex systems. He has previously delivered government level assessments of the impact of all photonics technologies on the European economy and maintains close contact with the European Commission and UK funding bodies.

As well as providing industrial liaison services for the Hub, John manages the South of England Photonics Network, a trade association for organisations in the South of the UK involved in Photonics. He has operated his own business development and marketing consultancy, Harlin Ltd since 2006. John has MBA from the University of Exeter, a PhD in Physics from the University of Southampton and a BSc in Physics from Edinburgh University.

A future manufacturing research hub