Tyndall National Institute researcher gets Institute of Physics medal

Brian Corbett is awarded Katharine Burr Blodgett Prize for work on photonic devices

Prof Brian Corbett: “I am truly honoured to receive this recognition and humbled to join all the previous prestigious winners of the IOP Katharine Burr Blodgett Medal and Prize, which recognises the contribution to the application of physics in an industrial and commercial context.”  Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney

Prof Brian Corbett: “I am truly honoured to receive this recognition and humbled to join all the previous prestigious winners of the IOP Katharine Burr Blodgett Medal and Prize, which recognises the contribution to the application of physics in an industrial and commercial context.” Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney

 

A world-leading researcher on use of light technologies known as photonics, Brian Corbett based at the Tyndall National Institute in UCC, has been awarded the 2021 Institute of Physics (IOP) Katharine Burr Blodgett Medal.

The gold medal has been awarded for his identification and creation of breakthrough innovative photonic device technology solutions that have driven development and growth of several start-ups and major innovations by multinational companies.

“Brian Corbett has raised visibility of Ireland’s high-impact technology ability significantly on the world stage. He is an outstanding recipient for the Katharine Burr Blodgett Medal and Prize,” according to the IOP citation.

“I am truly honoured to receive this recognition and humbled to join all the previous prestigious winners of the IOP Katharine Burr Blodgett Medal and Prize, which recognises the contribution to the application of physics in an industrial and commercial context,” he said. The institute is the main body for practising physicists in the UK and Ireland.

Corbett, who also works with the Irish Photonic Integration Centre (Ipic), the Science Foundation Ireland research body for photonics, invented the technology that enabled the establishment of Eblana Photonics (2001) to commercialise a scalable laser manufacturing technology which drives down the cost of high-performance, single-wavelength lasers for diverse mass market applications.

Firecomms and X-Celeprint

His work helped launch Firecomms, the first Irish start-up to be acquired by a Chinese Corporation (ZJF). The acquisition included a €5 million investment in Firecomms’ engineering team in Cork, resulting in the growth of the team to 30 today.

He was also key to attracting X-Celeprint to establish its global headquarters in Tyndall in 2013. The company is developing and licensing patented “micro-transfer-print technology” – a cost-effective and scalable manufacturing process for integrating microscale photonic devices into silicon-based structures.

Corbett’s game-changer reputation was further confirmed with the acquisition of InfiniLED in 2016 by Facebook. It was founded in 2010 to commercialise this low-power technology, known as ILED display, that delivers the most energy-efficient and high-brightness displays.

Augmented reality

Facebook’s investment in Cork has grown to more than 100 mainly physics-skilled scientists and engineers to develop Corbett’s technology into one of the world’s best augmented reality platforms.

Not only is his work with start-ups and SMEs critical to development of the Irish entrepreneurial and enterprise ecosystem, his partnerships with multinational companies have ensured enduring and fruitful relationships with companies such as Intel and Seagate.

Congratulating this year’s award winners, IOP president Prof Sheila Rowan congratulated all category winners. “Each and every one of them has made a significant and positive impact in their profession, whether as a researcher, teacher, industrialist, technician or apprentice.

“Recent events have underlined the absolute necessity to encourage and reward our scientists and those who teach and encourage future generations. We rely on their dedication and innovation to improve many aspects of the lives of individuals and of our wider society,” she added.