David N. Payne

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Sir David Neil Payne CBE FRS FREng[1] (born 13 August 1944) is a British professor of photonics who is director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton. He has made several contributions in areas of optical fibre communications over the last fifty years and his work has had an impact on telecommunications and laser technology. Payne’s work spans diverse areas of photonics, from telecommunications and optical sensors to nanophotonics and optical materials, including the introduction of the first optical fibre drawing tower in a university.


Payne’s work in fibre fabrication in the 1970s resulted in many of the special fibres used today.[2] He led the team at Southampton that invented the erbium-doped fibre amplifier, a type of optical amplifier,[3] The idea was adopted at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, USA [4] and the two teams between them developed much of the EDFA technology we know today. The EDFA was a crucial component that fuelled the rapid growth in the internet through its ability to transmit and amplify large amounts of data.

Payne also pioneered fibre lasers and led the teams that invented the single mode silica fibre laser and amplifier [5] and broke the kilowatt barrier for the output of a fibre laser.[6] Since then he has made discoveries which have contributed to the growth of fibre lasers for use in manufacturing and defence.

Payne is the current director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton, one of the world’s largest research groups dedicated to photonics. He also directs the Photonics Hyperhighway research project, aimed at making internet connections 100 times faster.[7]

Awards and recognition

He has received the UK Rank Prize for Optics, the US Tyndall Award (1991) and the Benjamin Franklin Medal for Engineering (1998). He is also an Eduard Rhein Foundation Laureate (Germany). In 2001 Payne was awarded the Mountbatten Medal of the IEE (2001) and the Kelvin Medal of the eight major engineering institutions for distinction in the application of science to engineering (2004). The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) awarded him the 2007 Photonics Award for outstanding achievements in photonics, the first awarded outside the USA. In 2008, he won the $100,000 Marconi Prize for his work in developing the erbium-doped optical fiber amplifier. In 2011, the Marconi Society elected him Chairman. [8] He was appointed a Fellow[9] of the Royal Academy of Engineering[10] in 2005. In 2007, he was elected to the Russian Academy of Sciences as one of only 240 foreign members. [11]Payne was knighted in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to photonics research and applications.[12]


  1. "List of Fellows".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. S.B.Poole, J.E.Townsend, D.N.Payne, M.E.Fermann, G.J.Cowle, R.I.Laming, P.R.Morkel, Characterisation of special fibres and fibre devices IEEE Journal of Lightwave Technology Special Issue 1989 Vol.7(8) pp.1242-1255
  3. R. J. Mears, L. Reekie, I. M. Jauncey, and D. N. Payne, in Digest of Topical Meeting on Optical Fiber Communication (Optical Society of America, Washington, D.C., Jan 1987), Paper W12; R. J. Mears, L. Reekie, S. B. Poole, and D. N. Payne, Electron. Lett. 22,159 (Sept 1986)
  4. E. Desurvire, J.R. Simpson and P.C. Becker, High-gain erbium-doped traveling-wave fiber amplifier, Optics letters, Vol. 12, No. 11, November 1987
  5. R.J.Mears, L.Reekie, S.B.Poole, D.N.Payne, Neodymium-doped silica single-mode fibre lasers, Electronics Letters 1985 Vol.21 (17) pp.738-740
  6. Y.Jeong, J.K.Sahu, S.Baek, C.Alegria, D.B.S.Soh, C.Codemard, V.Philippov, D.J.Richardson, D.N.Payne, J.Nilsson, Ytterbium-doped double-clad large-core fiber lasers with kW-level continuous-wave output power, CLEO/IQEC 2004 San Francisco 16–21 May 2004 CMS
  7. Pioneering research aims to make the internet faster, University of Southampton Optoelectronics Research Centre, 2011-01-28, with two audio recordings of Payne
  8. David N. Payne Elected Chairman of the Marconi Society, http://marconisociety.org/press/payneelected.html
  9. "List of Fellows".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "List of Fellows".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. A GOLDEN TOUCH: PROFESSOR DAVID PAYNE CBE FREng FRS, http://www.ingenia.org.uk/ingenia/issues/issue38/issue38_profile.pdf
  12. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60367. p. 1. 29 December 2012.

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