Southampton academic receives Singapore’s highest honour

One of the world’s leading experts in nanophotonics from the University of Southampton has received the highest honour bestowed upon research scientists and engineers in Singapore.

Professor Nikolay Zheludev FRS NAE, Deputy Director of Southampton’s Zepler Institute and co-Director of The Photonics Institute at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, has been awarded the President’s Science Award. Professor Zheludev and his Singapore-based colleagues Associate Professor Chong Yidong and Associate Professor Zhang Baile from NTU, are honoured for their global leadership in, and fundamental contributions to, topological nanophotonics research which underpins the development of a new generation of light-based technologies.

The President’s Science Award is one of the annual President’s Science and Technology Awards bestowed upon  research scientists and engineers in Singapore whose work have resulted in significant scientific, technological or economic benefits for Singapore and making the country a world-class hub for science and technology.

Together, Professor Zheludev, Dr Yidong and Dr Baile have pioneered a new sub-field of photonics – the science of generating, harnessing, and manipulating light. The team’s research has not only produced breakthroughs in fundamental science, but also identified important technological applications in light-enabled technologies, such as lasers and telecommunication.

Topological nanophotonics has resulted in innovative materials and states of light with extraordinary properties. The team has engineered materials in which light flows around sharp corners without reflection, unlike normal light waves. The team is also developing new types of microscopy and metrology that allow imaging and the measurement of objects much smaller than previously possible.

The team’s research is conducted at the Centre for Disruptive Photonic Technologies (CDPT) founded and directed by Professor Zheludev. Since its formation in 2012, CDPT, has become one of the world’s foremost centres of nanophotonics research. CDPT is a part of The Photonics Institute at NTU, a major international research partner for the  Optoelectronics Research Centre and Zepler Institute at the University of Southampton. Since 2016, the CDPT team has spearheaded research on the fundamentals of topological nanophotonics and currently focuses on developing technological applications of the new concepts.

“The Presidential award in Singapore is a great honour for me and my colleagues in Singapore,” said Professor Zheludev. “It is not only the highest recognition of the photonics research undertaken at NTU, but also a reflection of the success of The Photonics Institute and the Centre for Disruptive Photonics Technologies at NTU that were developed with the involvement of key researchers from the University of Southampton.”

The team has an exceptional scientific publication record which includes 36 papers in the Science and Nature families of journals; delivery of 23 plenaries and keynotes, and 85 talks at major international conferences. Their papers have received more than 5,000 citations a year. They have also won major accolades globally with Professor Zheludev being elected to Fellow of the Royal Society (UK) and the National Academy of Engineering (USA).

The Zepler Institute is the largest photonics and electronics institute in the UK, bringing together leading researchers from across the University of Southampton and their collaboration partners internationally, enabling them to innovate by providing access to one of the most comprehensive collections of nanoelectronics and photonics fabrication equipment in Europe.

Professor David Payne, Director of the Zepler Institute and co-Director of The Photonics Institute in Singapore said: “This award is the highest recognition a scientist working in Singapore can hope for and is well deserved for the huge impact Nikolay has had on the Singapore photonics landscape.  It is also an endorsement of The Photonics Institute, a dual centre concept between NTU and the Zepler Institute that we founded a decade ago and of which Nikolay is a co-Director.  What better endorsement could we hope for?”

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