Quantum Electronics and Photonics Group

This is an IOP special interest group, which is a community of IOP members focused on a particular discipline, application or area of interest. Special interest groups allow members to connect and share knowledge and ideas. The IOP funds groups to deliver a range of activities including events, prizes and bursaries. All of our groups are driven by members.

About the group

Our group represents a forum for a community engaged with and interested in the research, applications and educational aspects of the quantum electronics and photonics. 

The Quantum Electronics Group was founded in 1972 to reflect on the burgeoning interest in lasers and their applications. In 1999 its name was changed to provide coverage of many other areas that have emerged due to rapid advancements in the broader area of photonics.

What the group does

Some examples of the research areas that we engage with are:

  • lasers and other sources of electromagnetic radiation,
  • fibre optics and optical communication
  • optical materials
  • quantum optics
  • integrated photonics
  • nonlinear optics and light-matter interaction
  • optical sensing and spectroscopy
  • bio- and medical optics
  • nanophotonics

Our membership covers:

  • industry
  • academia
  • education sector
  • policy makers
  • general public

Watch our video on roadmapping photonics.

Would you like to join this group?

Group physics prizes and competitions

Quantum Electronics and Photonics Doctoral Research Prize

This prize recognises students who have carried out doctoral research of an exceptional standard in the field of quantum electronics and photonics in the areas of our current activities.

The prize is £250 and a certificate.

Students eligible for this prize should be:

  • members of the IOP
  • nominated by their supervisor
  • completing their PhD examination to the stage of an examiners' recommendation of at least a pass with minor corrections
  • completing their PhD examination, to the stage of an examiners' recommendation of at least a ‘pass with minor corrections’, between January 31 2019 and February 29 2020

Subject areas can include:

  • lasers and other sources of electromagnetic radiation
  • fibre optics and optical communication
  • optical materials
  • quantum optics
  • integrated photonics
  • nonlinear optics and light-matter interaction
  • optical sensing and spectroscopy
  • bio- and medical optics
  • nanophotonics

Supervisors should submit:

  • nomination form
  • an electronic copy of the thesis
  • chosen feature image
  • headshot of student for our print and online media
  • list of journal publications and conference papers with details of the invitation or poster

Nomination deadline 29 February 2020.



Dr Rachel Offer
Dr Rachel Offer

We are pleased to announce that the 2019 QEP Doctoral Research Prize has been awarded to Dr Rachel Offer for their work on 'Four-wave mixing in rubidium vapour with structured light and an external cavity' under the supervision of Dr Aidan Arnold and Professor Erling Riis at the University of Strathclyde.

Dr Offer’s work has led key developments in both the areas of holography and four-wave-mixing (FWM) in atomic vapours. Their work has results in highly citied published work in Optics Express, Optics Letters and Communications Physics.

Dr Offer was also recently awarded an EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellowship to initiate studies into cold atomic memories.


Dr Daniel Whiting

For Nonlinear Optics in a Thermal Rb Vapour at High Magnetic Fields, under supervision of Professor Ifan Hughes at the University of Durham. Read more about Dr Whiting in the profiles section. 


Joint winners

Dr Dianmin Lin

For Flat Optics Based On Dielectric Gradient Metasurfaces
Stanford University, USA

Dr Jamie Francis-Jones

For Active Multiplexing of Spectrally Engineered Heralded Single Photons in an Integrated Fibre Architecture Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials, University of Bath, UK


Joshua Silverstone

For Entangled Light in Silicon Waveguides Centre for Quantum Photonics, University of Bristol


Jun Yu (Bruce) Ou

For Reconfigurable Photonic Metamaterials Nanophotonics and Metamaterials Group, University of Southampton


Tobias Herr

For Solitons and Dynamics of Frequency Comb Formation in Optical Microresonators K-Lab, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland


Sebastian Weustner

For Gain and Plasmon Dynamics in Active Nanoplasmonic Metamaterials. Condensed Matter Theory Group, Imperial College London


Paul Siddons

For Faraday Rotation of Pulsed and Continuous-wave Light in Atomic Vapour. Atomic and Molecular Physics Group, Durham University


Eric Plum

For Chirality and Metamaterials. Nanophotonics and Metamaterials Group, University of Southampton


Nikitas Papasimakis

For Trapped-modes, Slow Light and Collective Resonances in Metamaterials. Nanophotonics and Metamaterials Group, University of Southampton

Kosmas Tsakmakidis for Ultra-slow and stopped light in metamaterials
Condensed Matter Theory Group, Imperial College London


Fernando Brandao

Imperial College London


Sarah Croke

Strathclyde University


Matthias Ediger

Heriot-Watt University


John Morton

Oxford University


Jörg Evers

Universität Freiburg


Hyunseok Jeong

Queen's University Belfast

Seán Martin O'Flaherty

Trinity College Dublin


Dimitris Angelakis

Imperial College London

Optics and Photonics Prize

This prize is biennially awarded jointly with the Optical Group for:

  • an outstanding contribution to the optics and photonics community
  • work mainly carried out in the UK or Ireland



Professor Phillip Dawson

University of Manchester, UK. Read more about Professor Dawson in profiles. 


Professor David Walker

Glyndwr University; University College London, Zeeko Ltd


Professor J Knight

University of Bath, UK


Professor Ken Grattan

City University London

Bates Prize

This is awarded jointly with other groups, to an early-career researcher for outstanding research, published within the previous five years, on a topic relevant to these Institute groups:

  • Quantum Optics, Quantum Information and Quantum Control
  • Atomic and Molecular Interactions
  • Molecular Physics
  • Quantum Electronics and Photonics
  • Plasma Physics

The prize awarded in odd years to commemorate Sir David Bates FRS for pioneering studies of atomic and molecular processes and their role in atmospheric science, plasma physics and astronomy.


2017 James Millen 

2015 Janet Anders

2013 Jeremy O'Brien

2011 Matt Jones

2009 Mike Tarbutt

2006 J Brown

2005 J Tennyson

2004 Joachim Ulrich

2002 Philip G Burke

2000 Raymond Flannery

Alan Gibson Prize

This prize is awarded biannually for the best poster presented at the Photon series of conferences.

Annual conference and physics events 

Photon 2020

7-10 September 2020, East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham UK

Over four days, Photon participants have the opportunity to:

  • attend lectures from experts in the field
  • get up to date with cutting-edge research
  • visit exhibitions on the latest in optics and photonics technology

Learn more about the Photon 2020 conference


We also run half and one-day meetings on specific topics, sometimes replacing the specialist approach with a tutorial format.

As well as running our own programme of meetings and conferences, we keep in touch with the events at:

  • The Royal Society of Chemistry
  • The Quantum Electronics Division of the European Physical Society
  • the Institution of Electrical Engineers' Optical Technology and Applications Group

Find group events on our events portal.



Dr Daniel Whiting

2018 doctoral research prize winner Dr Whiting's work has led to Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funded research grants. It has inspired new projects by research students in his supervisors group.

Doctoral work was focused in the area of quantum optics in atomic vapours subject to strong magnetic fields (the hyperfine Paschen Back regime). 

Previous work on multi-level effects with thermal vapours was hampered by the complexity arising from the large number of degenerate states that were not resolved with respect to the Doppler broadening.  This feature made experiments difficult to optimise and prevented agreement with theoretical calculations.

His studies into optical phenomena, such as electromagnetically induced absorption (Whiting et al. Optics Letters (2015)), electromagnetically induced transmission (Whiting et al. Phys. Rev. A (2016)), and four wave mixing (Whiting et al. J. Mod. Opt (2018)), work far better in a thermal vapour in the presence of a sufficiently large magnetic field. 

He has shown that it is possible to realise archetypal textbook atomic energy level configurations. This has allowed for impressive quantitative agreement between theory and experiment, and enables optimization of devices such as optical isolators and Faraday filters.

Professor Philip Dawson

Winner of the 2018 Optics and Photonics Prize Professor Dawson has made major contributions to the understanding of the optical properties of semiconductors, particularly materials based on gallium nitride which are used for LED lighting. 

Dr James Millen

Winner of the 2017 Bates prize Dr James Millen from the Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology has pioneered experimental and theoretical contributions to the field of quantum optomechanics.

Over the last five years, Dr James Millen has established a reputation as one of Europe’s foremost young researchers in the rapidly growing field of quantum nanoscale optomechanics. He has made seminal contributions to the study of levitated optomechanical systems, opening up new directions in quantum science research.

Following a highly successful PhD in atomic physics, he began working on optomechanics at University College London (UCL) in 2011. The field of quantum nanoscale optomechanics emerged early this century. The aim is to cool and manipulate nano- and micro- scale mechanical systems with light. The ultimate goal is to observe the quantum behaviour of mesoscopic objects made of billions of individual molecules. Until recently, these mechanical systems had to be attached to a much larger substrate, limiting the range of systems that could be cooled and leading to unwanted losses.

Millen’s major contribution over the past five years has been to pioneer the optical cooling and manipulation of levitated objects – freed from a substrate and held in place by electrostatic or optical fields. At UCL he demonstrated the first cavity cooling of electrostatically trapped nanobeads, followed by record cavity cooling of a levitated nanoparticle. Demonstrating his versatility, he was also lead author on a pivotal theoretical study on the use of statistical methods to carry out thermometry in these out-of-equilibrium, strongly coupled nonlinear systems. Remarkably, he was able to show that by observing the Brownian motion of the trapped sphere, information can be gleaned not only on its centre-of-mass dynamics, but also on the its surface temperature and that of the surrounding background gas. This work was featured on the cover of Nature Nanotechnology.

More recently he obtained a prestigious European Union Marie Curie fellowship in the group of Professor Markus Arndt at the University of Vienna, where he continued his groundbreaking research in optomechanics, performing the world’s first studies of the optical control of levitated nanorods. In these papers, Millen appears as the last author, a position traditionally reserved for the group leader, demonstrating that this pioneering project was indeed driven by him, and the international esteem that he has acquired.

Alongside his outstanding research track record, Millen is also recognised as a leader in public engagement in the area of quantum science. He founded the quantum workshop project, presenting demos and science discussion in venues from pubs to the Science Museum. He has provided outreach training for scientists from undergraduate to professorial level, and science advice to producers of two BBC documentaries. In 2013 he was invited to give a nine-hour course on quantum theory to the public at the Royal Institution, which was enormously successful, becoming an annual event.

Committee and contacts 

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