Photonics experts showcase dynamic vision for the future of optical communications


Dr Gregory Jasion from the Microstructured Optical Fibres group at the ORC. In 2016 he was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship.

Significant advances in component technologies that will drive a step change in communications infrastructures were highlighted by researchers from the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at a prestigious showcase event at The Royal Society in London.

Pioneering research from ‘The Photonics Hyperhighway’ programme was presented to an audience of leading experts at the ‘Beyond state-of-the-art optical communications’ event in Central London on Friday 2nd June.

Professor Sir David Payne, Director of the ORC and Principal Investigator, declared that the £7.2m Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded programme and associated UNLOC project demonstrated the “immense strength of photonics in the UK” as he introduced a series of presentations from scientists in Southampton, Bristol, University College London (UCL), Cambridge and Aston.

The ‘Transforming the Internet Infrastructure – The Photonics Hyperhighway’ research programme combined the world-leading expertise of the University of Southampton and the University of Bristol and ran from November 2010 to April 2017, with the goal to develop the internet infrastructure of the future.

Professor David Richardson in his address at the morning session outlined how, amongst many other achievements, the programme had set new records in hollow core fibre technology and validated many of their key properties. He also explained how the programme had helped demonstrate a 10 times increase in the maximum data carrying capacity for a single fibre strand and contributed to a 32-fold increase in spatial multiplicity in combination with complementary research.

“We have made huge progress through this project,” he said. “We have demonstrated a vast number of alternative techniques for non-linearity mitigation which should improve how much information can be sent through an optical fibre. The Photonics Hyperhighway and UNLOC programmes are hugely successful projects that have placed the UK at the forefront of next generation optical communications research.”

Research outcomes were covered in three sessions on the day, covering Understanding and Overcoming Optical Nonlinearities, Wideband Solutions and New Network Concepts. Presenters included the ORC’s Professor Jayanta Sahu, who revealed findings from his research on new fibre-doped amplifier technologies for extended transmission bands.

Several speakers shared the progress made by the EPSRC-funded UNLOC programme, a £4.8m five-year collaborative project between UCL, Aston University and multiple industry partners.

Ground-breaking optical communications research will continue at the ORC through substantial new research funding in the areas of hollow core optical fibres, high power fibre lasers and optical data storage using fs-laser inscription in glass. Find out more about the opportunities for early and mid-career research fellows in these fields in our recent ‘Seeking world-class photonics researchers’ post.

Copyright University of Southampton 2006