Professor David Payne FREng has been shortlisted for his work in developing technology which made possible the creation of a high-speed global fibre-optic network.

Professor Payne, Director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at Southampton University, has been shortlisted for the Millennium Technology Prize along with co-inventors Professor Emmanuel Desurvire and Dr Randy Giles. The trio were awarded “For their outstanding contributions to telecommunications through the invention of the erbium-doped fibre amplifier (EDFA) which made possible the global high-capacity optical fibre network, serving as a backbone of the global information highway. “

The Millennium Technology Prize is regarded by many as the unofficial Nobel Prize for technology and previous winners include Sir Tim Berners-Lee creator of the world- wide web and Professor Shuji Nakamura for the invention of new revolutionary light sources: blue, green and white LEDS and the blue laser diode. It seeks to reward research and technological innovations that improve the quality of human life.

The DNA fingerprinting technique developed by British geneticist Sir Alec Jeffreys from the University of Leicester was among the four innovations announced as finalists in a live satellite link from Helsinki beamed to New York, Paris and to the Academy’s HQ in London.

Dr Scott Steedman, Vice-President of The Royal Academy of Engineering, who co-hosted the London press conference comments, “Engineering is primarily concerned with changing and adapting the world we live in which is inextricably linked to innovation. There is a shared vision between the aims of the Millennium Technology Prize and the engineering community - to develop new technologies and enhance innovation to improve the quality of life”.

The winner of the prize receives 800,000 Euros while the creators of the other innovations will each be awarded 115,000 Euros. The winner will be announced in Helsinki on 11 June 2008.

Notes for editors

  1. The Millennium Technology Prize is Finland’s tribute to life-enhancing technological innovation. The prize is awarded every second year for a technological innovation that significantly improves the quality of human life, today and in the future. The world’s biggest technology prize is awarded by the Technology Academy Finland, an independent foundation established by Finnish industry in partnership with the Finnish state.
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship - comprising the UK's most eminent engineers - provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain's engineering community.

For more information please contact

Tonia Page, PR Consultant, The Royal Academy of Engineering on 07770 845984