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Fibre laser expert launches student prize fund to inspire future photonics pioneers

Published: 22 April 2020

The next generation of photonics researchers are being encouraged toward future success at the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) through a new PhD prize programme funded by a philanthropic former professor.

Fibre laser entrepreneur Anatoly Grudinin has donated £50,000 to the renowned institute, part of the Southampton's Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics, to recognise high quality research.

The ORC has a vibrant community of researchers, led by some of the leading figures in the field of photonics. These researchers have contributed significantly to the remarkable growth of the photonics industry, including the optical telecommunication technology that underpins the internet, as well as solutions in bioscience, sensing, security and manufacturing.

The Team 96 fund, which points to a prolific research period at the ORC in the mid-90s, will support 12 PhD students over the next six years.

"My time at the ORC gave me a solid foundation for my successful commercial activity and I want to encourage and motivate the next generation of students," Anatoly says. "I'll look forward to seeing the impact these students will make on their own professional development and the future of photonics in general."

Anatoly spent 10 years at the ORC between 1992 and 2002. He pioneered short-pulse fibre lasers, soliton transmission systems and cladding-pumped fibre lasers as a Research Fellow and Professor. Anatoly has over 200 publications, holds several patents and is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America.

He completed his academic career by launching his fibre laser company, Fianium, which focussed on commercialization of ultrafast fibre lasers. Anatoly grew Fianium from a one-man company to a leading supplier of high-end fibre lasers employing nearly 100 people. In 2016 the company was sold to Danish firm NKT Photonics.

Professor Sir David Payne, Director of the ORC, says: "My deepest thanks to Anatoly for his generous gift. This is an elite award for our top students and it is fantastic that we are able to recognise their success in this way. These prizes will continue our strong tradition of innovation - from one generation of ORC alumni to the next."

PhD students in the ORC work with the Centre’s leading photonics scientists, conducting novel research in state-of-the-art facilities, while attending international conferences and writing journal papers. They’re provided with knowledge, skills and networking opportunities that open exciting career possibilities in technologies for communications, healthcare, manufacturing, defence and aerospace, energy and the environment. The ORC encourages a strong culture of innovation and close industry links which have resulted in many spin-out companies. Much of the Centre's work has an immediate and poweful impact within a diverse range of industries, even helping to create entirely new markets. The ORC is currently looking for the photonics pioneers of the future to join its vibrant research team, which includes over 30 research groups working on a wide variety of projects. Take a look at the full list of the PhD projects available at the ORC.

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