John C. Travers

John C. Travers

Professor of Physics

Heriot-Watt University

John founded LUPO and is Professor of Physics at Heriot-Watt University.

He has made multiple significant contributions to ultrafast nonlinear optics. He is recognised as a pioneer in using gas-filled hollow waveguides for ultrafast frequency conversion, pulse compression and supercontinuum generation. He proposed and demonstrated the use of soliton dynamics in hollow capillaries to produce high-brightness tuneable few-femtosecond pulses across the vacuum and deep ultraviolet region: a foundational technology. The light sources John develops range from the very small — for advanced industrial applications in the semiconductor industry and healthcare — to very large installations for pushing the boundaries of fundamental science.

John received the M.Sci degree in Mathematics and Physics from Durham University, UK, in 2003 and the M.Sc and Ph.D degrees from Imperial College London in 2004 and 2008, working with Prof. J.R. Taylor. For his Ph.D thesis he was awarded the European Physical Society’s Quantum Electronics Thesis Prize. After a period as one of the first Imperial College Junior Research Fellows, he moved to the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Erlangen, Germany (2010) to lead the ultrafast nonlinear optics group in Prof. Philip Russell’s division, and was subsequently promoted to W2 Research Group Leader (2012). In 2015 he was awarded the prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant and established LUPO at the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Science at Heriot-Watt University in 2016. He was promoted to full Professor of Physics in 2019.

In 2020 John was awarded the ERC Consolidator grant and elected Fellow of Optica (OSA).

In 2022 John was awarded the IET A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize.

The outcomes of his research have been published in more than 250 publications, presented in over 100 invited talks, and received attention in a wide range of scientific news outlets.

  • Soliton dynamics and nonlinear waves
  • Ultrafast pulse generation, compression, and characterisation
  • Frequency conversion and supercontinuum generation
  • Applications of new light-source technologies
  • PhD in Physics, 2008

    Imperial College London

  • MSc in Optics and Photonics, 2004

    Imperial College London

  • MSci in Mathematics and Physics, 2003

    University of Durham