The award is made for the invention and realisation of photonic crystal optical fibres. Profs Birks, Knight and Russell conceived and demonstrated the first photonic crystal fibres whilst working together at the University of Southampton in 1995. The research focus moved with all three researchers to the University of Bath in 1996, and the developments have continued at Bath since that time, generating numerous scientific breakthroughs and world-beating results, as well as some outstanding examples of economic impact.

Professor Birks said “This is a tremendous recognition of the contribution our work on new forms of optical fibre has made to revitalising the broader field of optical fibre physics.”

Professor Knight added “It’s especially gratifying to know that our research has resulted in the establishment and continued success of several businesses, demonstrating that the science has value beyond academia.”

The Prize will be awarded at a ceremony in London on February 12th, 2018, and will be equally divided amongst the three researchers.

The Rank Prize Funds is a charitable organisation which seeks to recognise excellence in specific fields of research and reward innovators for their dedication and outstanding contribution. The Funds were established by the late Lord Rank in 1972.