'Glass to Google' visit by Professor Sir David Payne

Mathematics, Computing & Science

On Monday 7 March, Science, Computing, Maths, and Business students attended a presentation given by photonics pioneer Professor Sir David Payne, called 'Glass to Google'.

David is the director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton and, with his team, created the backbone of the internet as we know it today. His invention of the erbium-doped fibre amplifier (EDFA) in the 1980s finally allowed information to travel through fibre lasers from one location to another, and these fibres – manufactured in Southampton - are now in use all over the world, as well as out of this world too. His inventions are in use on both the moon and Mars!

His presentation gave the students a brief history of the optical internet and how we communicate using light, as well as how all of the research carried out can be used for business purposes. It also encouraged the students to think about the future: where technology will be in just a few decades, and where they themselves will be. He offered tips to how to ensure they succeed in whatever they choose to do, including a reminder to always keep trying; as whatever the students are creating now may not be feasible yet, but give it some time and it might very well be.

David also spoke about the new challenge that his team is now facing: how to increase the capacity of the fibre lasers, as the internet is rapidly filling up with the vast amount of content we upload daily. He doesn't doubt that they will be successful, as his team in Southampton are world leaders in the field.

It was an inspiring and educational presentation that gave students ideas for career options they may not have previously considered.

We look forward to seeing lots more engaging talks in our Science, Computing, Maths, and Business departments throughout the year!