The University of Southampton

Three researchers at the Optoelectronics Research Centre are celebrated for their innovation

Published: 21 December 2022

The Photonics100 is a newly-launched international initiative by Electro Optics that celebrates the industry’s most innovative people. The cutting-edge research and development demonstrated by these individuals inspired nominations from the photonics community and the final list was selected by the editorial team at Europa Science. This final list includes three members of the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton: Professor David Richardson, Dr. Ben Mills and Dr. Callum Littlejohns, all of whom have contributed to the world-leading reputation of the ORC.

Professor David Richardson, Deputy Director of the ORC, was recognised for his role in launching Lumenisity, a spin-out company of the Airguide Photonics programme. The company was formed in 2017 to commercialise breakthroughs in the development of hollow core fibre technology. These fibres allow data to travel faster with record low levels of loss, which David and his team believe can overcome the issue of the telecom fibre limit. With regards to the Photonics100 nomination, Professor Richardson said: “I am delighted to have been recognised in this way by my peers for my enterprise and research contributions. The fact that three members of the ORC have been included in this top 100 list highlights the important role that Southampton plays within the international photonics community.”

Dr. Ben Mills, a Principal Research Fellow at the ORC, was recognised for his integration of artificial intelligence and laser processing. Dr. Mills is using artificial intelligence to develop self-driving lasers that can self-optimise and have real-time control, thereby removing the risk of human error and increasing productivity across laser-based manufacturing. This integration of two disciplines has opened up revolutionary opportunities in photonics. To demonstrate the rapidly developing importance of this technology, Dr. Mills used ChatGPT (a recently released artificial intelligence language model) to write the following quote: "I am deeply grateful to have been nominated for the Photonics 100 award, for contributions in the field of artificial intelligence and lasers. I am incredibly fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated research team, and this recognition is a testament to their hard work."

Dr. Callum Littlejohns, a Principal Enterprise Fellow at the ORC, was recognised for his leadership of the silicon photonics rapid prototyping service called CORNERSTONE. In this role, Callum and his team provide technological solutions to research institutions and companies through silicon photonics. Callum said: “I am truly humbled and honoured to be recognised amongst such incredible peers in the Photonics100. Whilst my name is listed, the CORNERSTONE team as a whole deserve the credit. I am lucky to work with a brilliant team who make everything possible. It is a very exciting time to be in the field of silicon photonics and CORNERSTONE is well positioned to support researchers with their prototyping requirements.”

The nomination of three of the ORC’s researchers is evidence of the strong culture of innovation, with senior academics being recognised alongside those who are in the earlier stages of their careers. This innovative and boundary-pushing research has positioned the ORC as a world-leading institution in the field of photonics.

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