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Optical 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

As a special interest, member-driven group, we are the UK's national optical society. We trace our history back to the foundation of the Optical Society, London in 1899.

With over 1,500 members, we are one of the three largest optical societies in Europe. As a member of the European Optical Society the group represents the interests of the UK and Ireland’s optics and photonics community in Europe.

The main focus of the Optical Group is in the field of optical science and engineering, covering the visible, ultraviolet and infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Joining an IOP special interest group

For non-IOP members: Become a member now

For IOP members: Find out how to join a group

Group prizes

Optical Group Thesis Prize

This prize is awarded to the highest-quality doctoral thesis by an Optical Group member successfully defended within the previous year. The prize winner receives £250 and a certificate.

Optical Group Undergraduate Essay Prize

This prize is awarded to the highest-quality scientific essay written on an optics-related subject by an undergraduate student. The prize winner receives £250 and a certificate.

Optics and Photonics Prize

This prize is biennially awarded jointly with the Quantum Electronics and Photonics Group, for an outstanding contribution to the optics and photonics community mainly carried out in the UK or Ireland.

Learn more about the Optics and Photonics Prize

Thomas Young Medal and Prize

An IOP Silver Subject Medal awarded annually for distinguished contributions to optics, including work related to physics outside the visible region.

Learn more about the Thomas Young Medal and Prize 

Update on laser safety inspections – June 2022

Concerns have been raised in recent years by IOP Optical Group members about community uncertainty over the laser safety standards and their practical implementation, as expected in Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspections of university laser laboratories. Prompted by these concerns, the group has been gathering information about the situation from members, and speaking with other organisations including national labs, laser safety consultants, and HSE itself.

Our work here is still ongoing, but we want to provide an interim update to members, and seek your further assistance with our work. We have compiled a document summarising our findings so far (PDF, 306KB). It includes information on how you can further assist us.

Group events 


Photon is the major Optics and Photonics conference organised by the IOP in the UK and is a biennial series that started in 2002.

It is organised by the IOP Environmental Physics, Instrument and Science Technology, Optical, Quantum Electronics and Photonics, Quantum Optics, Quantum Information and Quantum Control, and Medical Physics groups.

Learn more about the Photon conference


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

Recent meetings:

  • Photonex
  • Photonex Scotland
  • Thin Film Coatings for Electro-optics
  • Optics + Ultrasound
  • Optics in Clinical Practice

Find group events on the website

European Optical Society

As the UK's national optical society, the group represents the UK and Ireland's optics and photonics community at the European Optical Society. All members of the Optical Group are also full members of the European Optical Society, at no cost.

Learn how to activate your membership of the European Optical Society

Committee and contacts

The committee meets about three times a year, normally in January, May and September.

Chair Dr Jolyon De Freitas, CPhys MInstP
Secretary Dr John Patrick Hadden, MInstP
Treasurer Dr Philip Dolan, MInstP
Ordinary Member Mr Aaron Jones, MInstP
Ordinary Member Dr Ir Akhil Kallepalli, SMIEEE, MInstP
Ordinary Member Mr Ryan Muddiman, RSciTech MInstP
Ordinary Member Professor Salah Obayya, FInstP
Ordinary Member Dr Alasdair Price, MInstP
Ordinary Member Miss Alissa Silva, MInstP

Email: [email protected]

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