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Timothy Leighton

Timothy Leighton

Credit: Brian Bell

Professor Timothy Leighton FMedSci FREng FRS


Elected: 2014


Timothy Leighton is a physicist and inventor whose motivation stems from a deep interest in the acoustical physics of bubbles. Through his research, Timothy has made notable contributions to diverse fields in industry, medicine, oceanography and the environment.

Taking inspiration from the way that dolphins hunt fish using bubble nets, Timothy developed the first sonar technique capable of detecting targets in bubbly conditions, such as those near the shore. His medical devices — a tool for monitoring kidney stone dispersal and a needle-free injection system — exploit his in-depth understanding of ultrasound and the collapse of bubbles, respectively.

In 2011, Timothy was awarded the Royal Society Brian Mercer Award for Innovation for StarStream, a device that uses ultrasound and bubbles to enhance the cleaning power of a stream of water, saving water and energy along the way. His well-received book, The Acoustic Bubble (1994), is an essential volume for students and researchers of bubble acoustics. He also founded and Chairs the Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention (NAMRIP) and Health Effects of Ultrasound in Air (HEFUA).

Professional positions

Professor of Ultrasonics and Underwater Acoustics, Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, University of Southampton
Chair, Health Effects of Ultrasound in Air (HEFUA), University of Southampton
Chair, Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention (NAMRIP), University of Southampton
Member of Scientific Expert Group, International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Engineering
    • Fluid dynamics, Engineering, mechanical
  • Earth and environmental sciences
    • Physical oceanography, Climate sciences


Bubbles, Acoustics, Ultrasonics, Cavitation


  • Clifford Paterson Medal and Lecture

    For translation of his fundamental research into acoustics and its application many in areas including anti-microbial resistance, mine detection, foetal scanning, catastrophe relief, climate change and marine life.

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