Speaker programme

Our varied programme for the day includes a keynote speech, invited speakers and Future Photonics Hub co-investigator updates. The programme schedule is printed below, followed by speaker information and subject talks.

  • 09:00 – 10:00 – Registration, networking brunch and browse the exhibition
  • 10:00 – 10:10 – Welcome from Professor Sir David Payne (Director, The Future Photonics Hub)
  • 10:00 – 10:45 – Keynote speech from Dr Benn Thomsen (Microsoft Research): ‘Challenges and opportunities for photonics in the cloud’
  • 10:45 – 11:25 – Session 1: ‘Solutions for next-generation data communications’
  • 11:25 – 11.45 – Refreshment break and exhibition time
  • 11:45 – 12:45 – Session 2: ‘Lasers – Higher power and greater efficiency’
  • 11:45 – Optional cleanroom tour
  • 12:45 – 14:15 – Lunch and exhibition with speed networking session
  • 14:15 – 15:00 – Session 3: ‘Opportunities for UK Photonics’ with talks by Georgios Papadakis (Innovation Lead – Electronics, Sensors and Photonics, Innovate UK), Ben Whitaker (Innovation Partner – The Defence and Security Accelerator) and Dr John Lincoln (CEO, The Photonics Leadership Group and Industrial Liaison Manager, The Future Photonics Hub)
  • 15:00 – 15:40 – Session 4: ‘Volume manufacturing of 2D and metamaterials’
  • 15:40 – 16.40 – Refreshment break and exhibition time
  • 16:00 – 17:00 – Session 5: ‘Integration – compact, low cost, ‘smarter’ devices’
  • 16:00 – Optional cleanroom tour
  • 17:00 – Thank you and close

Keynote speaker: Dr Benn Thomsen, Microsoft Research

Dr Benn Thomsen, Microsoft Research

The speech, entitled ‘Opportunities and challenges for photonics in the cloud‘ will address how cloud computing is driving a phenomenal growth in data center computing and the network infrastructure that supports this.

Abstract: “The CMOS processing and magnetic storage technologies that underpins data centre computing, and the network infrastructure that supports it, is likely to come up against some hard physical limits in 1 to 3 technology generations from now.  Also, most technology used in data centers today was designed before the cloud existed and is hindered by its legacy design. Can photonics provide a solution to some of these challenges?

“At Microsoft we are inventing future, non-legacy-based technologies to empower the next generation of the cloud; by creating new types of storage, network and compute resources that exploit optics. In this talk I will try to put some of these challenges into context and give a glimpse into some of the things we are currently working on in the photonics space.”

Biography: Benn Thomsen

Benn Thomsen joined Microsoft Research in Cambridge, in 2017, where he works on optical systems for networking and storage in next generation cloud computing systems.

Before joining Microsoft he was a Reader in Optical Communications and a member of the Optical Networks Group at UCL from 2004-2017. His research at UCL focused on the physical layer implementation of dynamic optical networks and optical transmission. With a particular focus in the area of digital signal processing for burst mode optical receivers, optical networking for data centres and the use of MIMO techniques for transmission over multimode optical fibres.

Benn moved to the UK in 2002 to join the Optoelectronics Research Centre, Southampton University, UK, as a Research Fellow, where he carried out research on ultra-short optical pulse generation and characterisation, optical packet switching based on optically coded labels, all optical pulse processing, high power short pulse amplification and optical noise suppression.

He obtained a BTech (Optoelectronics) with first class honours, an MSc (with distinction) and a PhD in physics (2001) at The University of Auckland, New Zealand. His PhD research involved the development and characterisation of short optical pulse sources suitable for high-capacity optical communication systems.

Session 1: Solutions for next-generation data communications

Professor Graham Reed and Professor David Richardson will each present a 20 minute technical session under the respective Future Photonics Hub Technology Platforms Silicon Photonics and High-Performance Silica Optical Fibres.

Professor Graham Reed, Deputy Director, Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC)

Graham Reed, FREng, BSc, PhD, FIET, CEng, is Professor of Silicon Photonics and Group Leader. He has recently joined Southampton from the University of Surrey, where he was Professor of Optoelectronics, and was Head of the Department of Electronic Engineering from 2006 to 2012. Reed is a pioneer in the field of Silicon Photonics, and acknowledged as the individual who initiated the research field in the UK. He established the Silicon Photonics Research Group at Surrey in 1989.

The first Silicon Photonics company in the world, Bookham Technology Inc., was founded by Reed’s PhD student, Dr Andrew Rickman, and adopted the research developed in the Group. The Silicon Photonics Group have provided a series of world leading results since it’s inception, and are particularly well known for their work on silicon optical modulators. For example, the Group produced the first published design of an optical modulator with a bandwidth exceeding 1 GHz, and were the first to publish the design of a depletion mode optical modulator, which is now a technology standard device.

Professor David Richardson, Deputy Director, Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC)

David Richardson obtained his B.Sc. and PhD in fundamental physics from Sussex University, UK, in 1985 and 1989 respectively. He joined the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton in 1989 and was awarded a Royal Society University Fellowship in 1991 in recognition of his pioneering work on short pulse fibre lasers.

Professor Richardson has been Deputy Director of the ORC with responsibility for optical fibre and laser related research since 2000. He has published more than 1,300 research papers and produced more than 30 patents during his time at Southampton.

He was one of the co-founders of SPI Lasers Ltd, an ORC spin-off venture acquired by the Trumpf Group in 2008, and more recently of Lumenisity Ltd which he co-founded in 2017.

Professor Richardson is a Fellow of the IEEE, OSA and IET and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2009. He received a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award in 2013 for his optical communications research and was a recipient of the H2020 “Breaking the Optical Transmission Barriers” Horizon Prize following his involvement in the PHOTONMAP consortium. He currently leads the ORC’s Optical Fibres and Lasers Group and the EPSRC-funded Airguide Photonics programme.

Session 2: Lasers – higher power and greater efficiency

Professor Francesco Poletti will give a technical presentation on ‘Novel glasses for ultrashort pulse fibre lasers and amplifiers’ under the Light Generation and Delivery Technology Platform, followed by Professor Jayanta Sahu and Professor Michalis Zervas each presenting a 20 minute technical session under the High-Performance Silica Optical Fibres Technology Platform.

Professor Francesco Poletti, Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC)

Professor Poletti has a background in electromagnetism, nonlinear optics and numerical modelling and a strong interest in fibre optics fabrication, characterisation and applications, with a particular focus on hollow core fibres, mid-IR fibres and nonlinear optical processes.

Francesco graduated with honours in Electronics Engineering at the University of Parma (Italy) in 2000. From 2000 to 2003 he worked at Marconi Communications on the design of optical telecoms networks, where he studied the effect of nonlinear impairments in WDM systems. He joined the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton in 2003, where he obtained a PhD in optoelectronics for his work on the direct and inverse design of microstructured optical fibres.

In 2009 Francesco was awarded Postdoctoral Research Fellowships from both the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering in support of his research on the design and application of novel gas, liquid and semiconductor filled holey fibres, and in 2016 he won an ERC consolidator grant for research on advanced hollow core fibres.

Francesco is currently leading the ORC’s Compound Glass and Fibres Research Group and the Hollow Core Fibre group. In his time at Southampton he has published more than 300 research papers, filed eight patents, and generated research income as a Principal Investigator in excess of £6 million. He is also one of the co-founders of the ORC spin-off Lumenisity Ltd.

Professor Jayanta Sahu, Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC)

Jayanta received a PhD from the Indian Institute of Technology in 1997 where he worked on the development of rare-earth doped optical fibres, the MCVD technique, and doped glasses using solgel techniques.

From 1997 to April 2000, he held a research engineer position at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, where he was engaged in development of silica based planar waveguide devices, based on Plasma deposition and reactive ion etching.

Since he joined the ORC in May 2000, he has been with the silica fabrication group, where his current research interests are in optical materials and in high power fibre lasers. Jayanta was appointed a professor in the ORC in June 2012.

Session 3: Opportunities for UK photonics

Our invited speakers will present three talks under the theme of opportunities for UK photonics.  These are:

Dr John Lincoln, CEO, Photonics Leadership Group – Update on the UK photonics landscape

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.

Dr John Lincoln, Photonics Leadership Group

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.

Georgios Papadakis, Innovation Lead for Electronics, Sensors and Photonics, Innovate UK – Innovate funding opportunities

George has worked in the ICT and Security industries across a diverse spectrum of roles from R&D to project management and business development. He specialised in telecommunications with a track record on novel concepts and architectures for the design and development of prototype systems for broadband access and networking both in the wireline and wireless segments. With an industrial experience on multi-stakeholder international collaborations as part of European research and innovation projects, George has served as the UK’s National Contact Point responsible for the Horizon 2020 themes of ICT and Future and Emerging Technologies and an expert member of the respective Programme Committees. In his current role as Innovation Lead at Innovate UK, he is responsible for the strategic and programmatic aspects of the Electronics, Sensors and Photonics (ESP) technology and innovation areas. The ESP programme activity supports public investments on underpinning technologies and capabilities from components and devices all the way to system-level development enabling innovative solutions across various industrial challenges and application areas.

Ben Whitaker, Innovation Partner, Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) – The Defence and Security Accelerator: finding and funding innovations that support the defence and security of the UK

Ben Whitaker joined the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) as an Innovation Partner in 2017. He is responsible for identifying technologies and innovations that could offer benefit to UK Defence and Security, and then helping accelerate their development and adoption within Government.

Ben Whitaker, Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA)

Prior to joining DASA, Ben led the Ministry of Defence’s response to the Government Chief Scientific Advisor’s review of MOD’s Science & Technology Capability. Ben has worked for both the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory and Defence Equipment & Support organisations in areas spanning autonomy; modelling and simulation; test and evaluation; communications; and cyber. For two years he was the Private Secretary to Dstl’s Chief Executive.

Ben has a Masters in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford.

Session 4: Volume manufacturing of 2D and metamaterials

Professor Nikolay Zheludev and Professor Dan Hewak will each present a 20 minute talk on their research under the Large-Scale Manufacture of Metamaterials and 2D Materials Hub Technology Platform.

Professor Nikolay Zheludev, Deputy Director, Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC)

Nikolay Zheludev, PhD, DSc is Professor of Physics at the University of Southampton (UK). He is deputy director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at Southampton and co-Director of the Photonics institute at NTU, Singapore. His research interests are in nanophotonics and metamaterials. His personal awards include the Thomas Young Medal for “global leadership and pioneering, seminal work in optical metamaterails and nanophotonics”, Senior Professorships of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK) and the Leverhulme Trust and the Royal Society Wolfson Research Fellowship. He was awarded MSc, PhD and DSc from Moscow State University. Professor Zheludev is the Editor-in-Chief of the IOP “Journal of Optics” and advisor to the Nature-Springer Publishing Group.

Professor Dan Hewak, Novel Glass Group lead, ORC

Professor Dan Hewak leads the The Novel Glass Group, part of the Optoelectronic Research Centre’s (ORC) Fibre Fabrication Area and plays a central role in a broad spectrum of ORC activities.

Session 5: Integration – compact, low cost, ‘smarter’ devices

In this session Professor Jon Heffernan, Professor Goran Mashanovich and Professor Martin Charlton will each present a 20 minute talk on their work under their respective Hub Technology Platforms; Light Generation and Delivery, Silicon Photonics and Large-Scale Manufacture of Metamaterials and 2D Materials.

Professor Jon Heffernan, Professor of Semiconductor Materials and Devices at the University of Sheffield and Director of the National Epitaxy Facility

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.

Professor Goran Mashanovich, Optoelectronics Research Centre

Goran Mashanovich received BSc and MSc degrees from the University of Belgrade, Serbia and PhD in Silicon Photonics from the University of Surrey, UK. In 2008, he was awarded a Royal Society Research Fellowship to work in a new research field in the UK, that of Mid-Infrared Silicon Photonics.

He joined the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton in 2012 where he leads research on mid-IR group IV photonics. His research interests include silicon and germanium photonic circuits, high speed transceivers, sensors, integration and packaging. He is author of 260 publications, including 7 book chapters. Professor Mashanovich’s research income to date is in excess of £20 million (£2m as Principal Investigator).

He is a member of several international conference programme committees and also a visiting professor at the University of Belgrade. Goran is very interested in innovative teaching and he has received several teaching awards.

Professor Martin Charlton, Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton






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