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2019 Michael Faraday Medal and Prize

Professor Roy Taylor for his extensive, internationally leading contributions to the development of spectrally diverse, ultrafast-laser sources and pioneering fundamental studies of nonlinear fibre optics that have translated to scientific and commercial application.


Head and shoulders photograph of Professor James Roy Taylor. He has grey hair and is wearing a dark blue jacket and tie and pale blue shirt.

Roy Taylor has been actively involved in experimental laser-based research for over 47 years and is widely acknowledged for his ‘hands-on’ approach and experimental innovation. He is particularly distinguished for his internationally leading work on compact, ultrashort laser sources and applications to nonlinear fibre optics. He has extensively translated fundamental discoveries into practical technology.

Evolving from his early basic studies of picosecond relaxation dynamics of organic dye saturable absorbers, Taylor developed all but one of the femtosecond passively mode-locked dye lasers that allowed tuneability throughout the visible. The femtosecond dye laser underpinned fundamental, ultrafast physical studies for over a decade. On directing his investigations to vibronic lasers, Taylor was the first to demonstrate the potential for femtosecond pulse generation in the now ubiquitous Titanium sapphire laser and went on to develop the first families of diode-pumped, tunable, all-solid-state femtosecond systems in the near infra-red and visible. The compact nature of these sources led to commercialization and wide deployment.

However, his seminal work on studies of fundamental nonlinear optical process in fibres, such as soliton-Raman, soliton self-interactions, the effects of noise and seeding of nonlinear processes, linked with the technology of all-fibre integration with master-oscillator power fibre amplifiers, which he developed, has had enormous international impact. Taylor was the first to demonstrate that the Erbium fibre amplifier, the backbone of optical communications, was capable of supporting the vast bandwidth of 100 femtosecond pulses and also reported the first all-fibre chirped pulse amplifier, as well as the first demonstration of chirped fibre gratings for dispersion compensation at telecommunications wavelengths.

Taylor's melding of fundamental discovery and technological innovation led to his development of the all-fibre, high-power supercontinuum or ‘white light laser’ source, which spectrally covers the complete transmission window of silica fibre (300 nm-2300 nm). Its unprecedented spectral power density and wavelength versatility has contributed to the international scientific and commercial success of the device, leading to its wide deployment from laboratory time-resolved dynamics to clinical medical imaging.

Taylor's impact on the field over the past thirty years in particular is reflected in his receipt of numerous international awards.

Read about our Gold Medals.