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  • Photonics Professor Wins 2008 Marconi Prize
May 2008
Professor David N. Payne, pioneering researcher in photonics and director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton in the UK, has been named the 2008 Marconi Fellow and Prize winner for his work in the field of fiber optoelectronics and fiber telecommunications, the backbone of modern high speed data transmission. 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 ten terabits per second of digital information, enough for nearly a million high-definition television channels. A professor of photonics and a University faculty member for 40 years, Payne’s research group is also credited with the discovery of the diode-pumped silica fiber laser now widely used in manufacturing and defense. 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, 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. 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 Professor Claude Berrou, who discovered turbo codes.

A sub-field of photonics that pertains to an electronic device that responds to optical power, emits or modifies optical radiation, or utilizes optical radiation for its internal operation. Any device that functions as an electrical-to-optical or optical-to-electrical transducer. Electro-optic often is used erroneously as a synonym.
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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