The University of Southampton

Coherent Optical Signals

This group is led by Dr Radan Slavik and it is part of the Advanced Fibre Technologies & Applications Group led by Professor David J Richardson.

Group webpage

Advanced Fibre Technologies & Application Group webpage


PhD Projects:

Ultra-stable fibre optics using new-generation optical fibres

Supervisor: Dr Radan Slavik
Co-supervisors: Prof Francesco Poletti, Dr Eric Numkam Fokoua, and Prof David J. Richardson

We are looking for candidates with an interest in fibre optics  and a degree or masters’ degree in physics or electronics to join us in researching the applications of brand new hollow core optical fibres developed at the University of Southampton (see ‘Further information’ below).

The successful candidate will have significant interaction with the fibre design and manufacturing teams, as well as with potential ‘end user’ groups, including the National Physical Laboratory in London and several companies in the fields of fibre optic sensing and optical communications, for example.

Here in the Optoelectronics Research Centre, at the University of Southampton, radically different, new-generation optical fibres are being designed and manufactured. The unique properties of these ‘hollow core’ optical fibres means they are predicted to surpass the ‘solid core’ fibres used today, in every aspect.

The project is supported with substantial funding associated with the £6m EPSRC-funded AirGuide Photonics programme grant, hosted at the world-renowned Optoelectronics Research Centre. www.airguide.soton.ac.uk 

Further information

A signal propagating through an optical fibre is generally considered to be immune to the external environment and associated disturbances. However, this is only true in terms of the signal intensity (power) – the time signal needs to propagate through the fibre depends on environmental changes like temperature variations. This sensitivity is critical for many fibre systems such as:

  • Interferometry (widely used in any field of optics, including quantum technologies),
  • Ultra-precise time/frequency transfer, for instance, to support improvement of the already most-precisely defined units like second and meter,
  • Next-generation data networks, such as 5G

Hollow Core Fibres in emerging applications

Supervisor: Dr Radan Slavik

Co-supervisor: Professor David Richardson

We are looking for candidates with an interest in fibre opitcs and a degree or masters’ degree in physics or electronics to join us in researching novel optical fibres (hollow core fibres) manufactured in our Cleanroom complex for use in emerging applications (such as 5G networks, latency-sensitive communications, etc.) in collaboration with our recently-formed spin-off company, Lumenisity.

The project is primarily experimental in nature and will involve integration of the new fibres with other components and sub-systems, in particular optical amplifiers. We expect to probe the operational limits of this radical new fibre technology (see ‘Further information’ below) and ultimately to lead to a number of practical demonstrator experiments.

The project is supported with substantial funding associated with the £6m EPSRC-funded AirGuide Photonics programme grant, hosted at the world-renowned Optoelectronics Research Centre. http://www.airguide.soton.ac.uk | http://www.orc.soton.ac.uk

Further information

Hollow core fibres (HCFs) are novel optical fibres in which light is trapped and guided with low loss in an air core, as opposed to in glass in a conventional optical fibre; these fibres have the potential to revolutionise many application areas including telecommunications, laser power delivery, gas sensing and metrology.

High speed mid-infrared photodetectors

Supervisor: Professor Goran Mashanovich
Co-supervisor: 
Dr Radan Slavik

We are looking for candidates interested in a broad range of photonics to investigate new integrated (small size, efficient, integrable with other components on the same photonics chip) detectors for the mid-infrared region that will be significantly faster than those available today.

The project will involve a range of activities required in photonics, such as the design and fabrication of integrated optics, characterisation of the fabricated devices, and building/testing of photonics systems.

You will also deal with the integration of these detectors with optical waveguides, allowing for signal detection using techniques known from today’s telecommunications (e.g., heterodyne detection) that can detect weak signals with significantly better signal-to-noise ratio than simple direct detection.

The outcome of this project is expected to revolutionise all potential applications in the mid-infrared, as background noise at room temperature is very strong in this spectral region, requiring advanced detection techniques to mitigate it.

Further information

Recently there has been tremendous interest in extending photonics beyond its traditional spectral regions, such as visible light for imaging, and near-infrared ‘light’ for telecommunications.

The mid-infrared region with wavelengths beyond 3 µm has great potential important application areas such as environmental sensing, homeland security and medicine. It will also give additional spectrum bandwidth for free-space communications for 6G networks and beyond. However, today performance of photonics components (such as light sources, modulators, waveguides, and detectors) operating in the mid-infrared region needs significant improvement to be of practical interest in the above-mentioned applications.

Photonics-assisted generation of ultrapure high-bandwidth signals

Supervisor: Dr Radan Slavik 
Co-supervisor: Professor David Richardson

We are looking for applicants with an interest in photonics, photonics signals and components, and their precise control, to investigate new architectures of photonics-aided radiofrequency (RF) signal digital-to-analogue conversion with the highest achievable fidelity and bandwidth.

This will follow up on our work in which we invented a new architecture that we are currently building and testing, in collaboration with our industrial partner EW Simulation Technology.

Further information

Generation and processing of RF signals, or data sent through Internet fibre optics, requires their conversion from analogue to digital form, and vice versa.

Traditionally, electronics is used for these tasks, but it has its inherent limitations. These limitations could be overcome replacing some critical electronic components with optical ones. In practice, it is more advantageous to completely re-work the entire architecture.

The project will be done in tight collaboration with our industrial partner, EW Simulations Technology based in Farnborough.

Exploring the potential of optical fibres with low propagation delay sensitivity

Supervisor: Dr Radan Slavik
Co-supervisors: F. Poletti and M.N. Petrovich

A signal propagating through an optical fibre is generally considered to be immune to the external environment and associated disturbances. However, this is only true in terms of the signal intensity (power) – the time signal needs to propagate through the fibre depends on environmental perturbations like temperature variations that induce changes in the fibre refractive index and length. This sensitivity is critical for many fibre systems, for example when used in interferometry or for ultra-precise time/frequency transfer applications. There are several emerging new types of fibres that present significantly lower sensitivity to those used today. Recently, we demonstrated an optical fibre with its sensitivity to temperature fully eliminated.

This project is concerned with the development of new devices that would greatly benefit from these new fibres. Two different fibres will be investigated: (a) based on a specialty-coated fibre and (b) on hollow-core photonic bandgap fibres. The project is expected to include both theoretical and experimental work – including modelling of devices of interest, the building of these devices and the subsequent precise characterization of their performance using advanced methods for optical phase characterization.

The project will also involve collaborative work with National Physical Laboratory in London.

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