Nigel Copner

WORIC - University of South Wales

Prof Nigel J Copner completed his BSc Physics honours at Reading University in 1988, with the highest First class, and subsequently obtained his PhD in Laser Physics from Swansea University in 1992.  He now heads the Wireless and Optoelectronics Research and Innovation Centre at the University of South Wales and Chair of Optoelectronics. He is also the Director of the Nanotechnology dept in Xian University, China and the CTO of a University spin off Cymtec Ltd.

He has an extensive patent portfolio (>40) generated during his successful career in Silicon Valley working at JDS Uniphase (Senior Manager, San Jose), DERA (Research Fellow, Malvern), Renishaw and through my work at the University.  Many of his key patents have been commercially exploited generating > $10M/year of revenue.  The optical switch (US2001006568) patent currently is the biggest selling opto-mechanical switch on the market.  The athermal and revolutionary dispersionless interleaver (US2002154314, US2002171908) currently dominates the market and forms the basis of the new DPSK/DQPSK product lines. As a result of his research, he has invented an entirely new interferometer which is now referred to as the “Copner” Interferometer (US61 25220 (A)).  In addition, his innovative approach to frequency doubling (US2004131093) forms the basis of JDS Uniphase’s blue note laser which is currently their biggest selling new laser product.  Throughout his research work he has endeavoured to encourage creativity and to developing many ideas through to a highly manufacturable, robust prototypes that pass the exhaustive Telecordia reliability specification 1221.

During his research work at DERA (Malvern) he won a NMSPU contract (£500k) to research new primary standards for laser RIN and Chirp.  This work was completed successfully in 1994 with the filing of a number of key patents (US6320179 (B1)).  His research work with Renishaw enabled him to file innovative ways of sensing laser frequency changes (US6345060 (B1)) without the normal degrading effects of vibration.  A new phase modulating concept for narrowing the linewidth of lasers (WO9831081 (A1)) was also predicted and verified experimentally.  Recently, within Academia, he has initiated a major research project (£2M) funded by the TSB based on his IP (US2007230532) which highlights the efficiency gains achieved if multimode second harmonic generation occurs within a laser cavity.  This project demonstrated exceptional performance recently when over 1.3W of green speckle free light was seen.  The closing DBERR representative stated that this project was the best that he had seen with all parties appearing to gain enormously from the research work.  Further, based on his novel tuneable laser concept (WO2009081160 (A1)) a major CIRP project (£540k) has been won.  This new concept deploys a frequency tuning element that simultaneously adjusts both laser frequency and cavity length changes to eliminate mode-hops. This concept is expected to open the metrology sector to higher volume applications in the medical sector etc.   In addition, he has initiated a Carbon Trust bid with Lomox Ltd for groundbreaking OLED research which should lead to more efficient general lighting and eventually displays.  This £2.5M project started on 1st Jan 2011.  He has won an EPSRC Case PhD grant (£100k) with Oclaro to research novel dispersion compensation for optical networks.  Recently also a £170k KTP project was won with Chromogenexs on new light sources for medical applications.  An EPSRC project for £450k has also been awarded to research his novel laser tuning concepts and Airbus are also funding research into WORIC’s novel concepts for free space communications to UAVs at a cost of £1M..

He is also the founder of a new local laser company, Cymtec Ltd which is currently targeting > £4M revenue within 3-4 years based on innovative ways of multiplexing LEDs of differing wavelengths.  This technology is expected to have a significant impact in the projection display and endoscope markets. He has created at the University a new Msc in Optoelectronics with internship where students work with high technology companies for 6 months.  He has also initiated a series of lectures to schools that aims to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.  These lectures have been given in the school environment and have been very popular.