SFI attracts world-class photonics researchers to UCC

30 May 2003

The Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has awarded €11.1m to a world-renowned four-man fibre optic research team to set up base at the University College Cork (UCC).

The team, led by Dr David Cotter, was formerly based at the Corning Research Centre in England. The grant will support the team in their exploration of ground-breaking areas in photonics. Photonics harnesses light and other forms of energy for use in technologies such as computers, fibre optics and wireless transmission that are vital to the information age.

For many years members of this group have been leaders in the area of photonics technology for ultra high-speed communications, optical data-routing and optical information processing. Team members Dr David Cotter, Dr Andrew Ellis, Dr Robert Manning and Prof Paul Townsend have published a number of books on the subject of photonics and have contributed to more than 300 publications in major international journals. Their achievements have also been recognised in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest transmission distance (125,000 km) of data at 22Gbps.

Noting the announcement, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Harney TD, stated: “The investments SFI are making have once again attracted an especially talented group of researchers. Ireland is positioning itself to exploit opportunities that will arise when the market for telecoms and telecoms-related investments strengthens. The key to research competitiveness is human capital, strong ideas and effective partnerships, and this UCC group, working with their new colleagues in Cork, brings us all three.”

Dr William Harris, director general of SFI, says: “SFI’s investment in this new research team shows us again that Ireland is earning respect around the world for its commitment to research into the technologies of tomorrow.

“SFI will continue to seek out opportunities like this that bring together Ireland’s outstanding researchers with other first-rate researchers from around the world. Our recent announcements of such joint ventures are only the beginning,” he concludes.

The team will complete its move to UCC shortly, and the research programme will be fully operational by the end of summer.

By Lisa Deeney