Shining spotlight on photonics


20 September 2016 

  • ·Celebrating 25 years of research at university into the science of light
  • ·International photonics experts highlight achievements and look to future

Aston University is celebrating a quarter of a century of research into the science of light by highlighting achievements in the field as well as looking at what the next 25 years may bring.  

The milestone was marked with a conference at Aston on September 16, attended by photonics experts from across the world. 

Photonics is the science of light; the technology of generating, controlling and detecting photons, which are particles of light. It underpins many technologies of everyday life in the 21 st  century including smartphones, the Internet, medical equipment and therapy, display technology and optical computing. 

Photonics research began at the university in 1991, leading to the establishment of the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT) five years ago. Today, it is the largest research group in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, and the second largest photonics research centre in the UK. The group pursues a diverse range of device-and-system-level topics at the leading edge of technology.

Professor Sergei Turitsyn, Director of the AIPT, said: “In September 1991 professors Ian Bennion and Nick Doran arrived at Aston University with an enthusiasm to establish a new research group to do the photonics.

“Now 25 years on, we have a history we are proud of. In the last five years alone we have been awarded more than 100 research and industrial grants, our research is internationally leading and it is well-balanced between fundamental science and important industrial projects that make immediate impact.

“Our research students and post-doctoral researchers work in industry and academia around the world at prestigious organisations including JLR, Bell Labs, CISCO, BAE Systems, BT, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent-Nokia, Tyco Communications and MIT Lincoln Laboratory and have become professors, research and industrial leaders in many universities, companies and countries.

“Our history and proud heritage has earned us a formidable reputation and our challenge now is to live up to our reputation.”

The conference, which was opened by Aston University’s new Vice Chancellor, Professor Alec Cameron, showcased the significant impact photonics has had on industry and product development. Academics also looked at the future direction for optical sensing and communications and the new generation of compact lasers for use in healthcare. 





 Notes to the editor

 ·  Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established research-led University known for its world-class teaching quality and strong links to industry, government and commerce.

 ·  The word 'photonics' is derived from the Greek word ‘photos’ meaning light; it appeared in the 1960s to describe a research field that aimed to use light to perform functions that traditionally belonged to the domain of electronics, including telecommunications and information processing.

 · Photonics inventions include the laser, optical fibres for transmitting information, and the erbium-doped fibre amplifier. These inventions formed the basis for the telecommunications revolution of the late 20th century and provided the infrastructure for the Internet.

  Optical sensing techniquescan be used in a wide range of applications covering wind turbine performance monitoring, oil and gas exploration, bridge and tunnel monitoring, other structural monitoring, marine defence and health.

For more information, contact Susi Turner, Press & PR officer on direct line 0121 204 4978 or email s.j.turner@aston.ac.uk