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Fellows Directory

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.

He conducts fundamental research then translates it. 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 — including 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. He developed theory and devices used on the North Sea seabed to assess the integrity of Carbon Capture and Storage facilities, used at the sea surface to estimate the flux of greenhouse gases between atmosphere and ocean, and used to assess safety on the world’s most powerful pulsed neutron source. His work supported the safety of foetal scanning, and of migrating fish.

In 2011, Timothy was awarded the Royal Society Brian Mercer Award for Innovation, and in 2018 was awarded the Royal Society's Paterson Medal. In addition to his Chair at the University of Southampton, he is a Executive General Director and Inventor-in-Chief at Sloan Water Technology Ltd, a company founded on his patents.

Professional positions

Professor of Ultrasonics and Underwater Acoustics, Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, University of Southampton
Founder and Chair, Health Effects of Ultrasound in Air (HEFUA), University of Southampton
Founder and 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)
Executive General Director and Inventor-in-Chief, Sloan Water Technology Ltd

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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