The University of Southampton

Advanced Fibre Technologies & Applications PhD Projects

There has been a massive investment in optical fibre telecommunications technology over the last 40 years. Optical fibres lie at the very heart of modern society, providing the information superhighways required within our global communication systems. 

Within the AFTA group we are developing the fibres, fibre devices, and system concepts required for next generation telecommunication systems and investigating new applications of the technology in areas beyond telecommunications including amongst others: high power pulsed fibre lasers, industrial materials processing, aerospace, biology, sensing and fundamental physics.

Multi-mode integrated nonlinear photonics

Supervisor: Dr Francesca Parmigiani
Co-Supervisors: Prof. Periklis Petropoulos, Prof. David Richardson and Prof. Graham Reed

Optical communication networks are undergoing a major transformation: it is widely recognised that there is a need to accommodate multi-terabit per second communication traffic over the existing infrastructure at improved energy efficiency. These requirements call for novel optical solutions, such as wavelength converters, to upgrade transmission systems at no extra hardware cost, accommodating processing of the variety of sophisticated multi-format signals that will be used in the future.

The student working in this area will exploit the potential of multi-mode nonlinear effects and the silicon photonic platform to uniquely provide an environment for the design of novel, high-performance nonlinear devices. Potential applications span from wavelength conversion in telecommunication to the generation of tunable wavelength converted sources at any desired wavelength.

The student will have the opportunity to work with custom-made silicon waveguides and combine them with state-of-the-art devices, including full electronic testing capabilities up to 56 Gbit/s, optical diagnostic tools with a bandwidth in excess of 500 GHz and a dark fibre link connecting several laboratories across the UK.

All-optical signal processes enhanced by multi-mode nonlinearities

Supervisor: Dr F Parmigiani
Co-supervisor: Prof D Richardson, Prof P Petropoulos

Optical communication networks are undergoing a major transformation: it is widely recognised that there is a need to accommodate multi-terabit per second communication traffic, using fast and low-latency solutions with even more individual wavelength carriers, all the while improving energy efficiency. These requirements call for novel optical amplifiers exhibiting substantially larger bandwidth (and thus also data capacity) than the widely-adopted erbium doped fibre amplifier (EDFA) with fixed (35 nm) bandwidth. 3rd-order nonlinear parametric processes are very interesting alternative solutions to extend the amplification bandwidth by a factor in excess of ten.

The student working in this area will explore all-optical signal processing applications based on 3rd-order parametric effects in multi- (or few-) mode media. This extra spatial dimension will be used to enhance the performance of a variety of applications, spanning from broadband parametric amplification to the generation of wavelength-tunable sources at potentially any desired wavelength.

The student will have the opportunity to work with new fibre types or materials and combine them with state-of-the-art electronic capabilities in strong collaboration with the fibre fabrication and the computational groups within the ORC.

Advanced two-micron fibre lasers

Supervisor: Prof D Richardson
Co-supervisor: Prof S U Alam

Fiber lasers operating in the two-micron wavelength region and based on the same fundamental technology as the incredibly successful Erbium-doped fiber amplifier (telecomms) or high power pulsed Ytterbium-fibre laser technology (industrial marking and cutting) have the potential to open up a wealth of new applications in medicine, industry, and optical communications. The emerging nature of this wavelength band has provided a host of new challenges and there are a wealth of both intellectual and technical aspects being researched. Based on our rare ability to fabricate our own fibres (one of just two universities in the UK) we are focussed on pioneering experimental research in the development of Thulium and Holmium lasers operating at two-microns for both telecomms and gas sensing.

The main focus of the project will be to create a world leading femto/pico-second pulsed fibre laser source. Nonlinear frequency conversion will also be used as it enables transfer of the power from the gain-band to longer wavelengths. This could enable some of the most sensitive 3 – 5 μm wavelength band gas-detection studies ever devised.

A fully funded PhD place on this project is available for UK students. Students from overseas who have secured external funding are also welcome to apply.

Development and application of novel femtosecond fiber-laser sources

Supervisor: Prof D Richardson
Co-supervisor: Dr J Price

Applications of femtosecond and picosecond short pulse lasers are at the forefront of research in areas such as nonlinear imaging (bio-sciences), material surface processing (industry) and high harmonic generation / attosecond science (physics). Achieving a significant increase in the pulse energy from a single fibre laser is now reaching fundamental limitations set by nonlinear interactions in the fibres. This is a pressing challenge for fiber laser developers as there are a range of fields such as future electron accelerators for physics and for medical treatments that demand significant increases in the available pulse energy.

The project will address this challenge using novel techniques that combine the outputs of many fiber lasers into a single beam. This is seen as a way of enabling fibre lasers to tackle the next tier applications. The work will be underpinned by novel fibers emerging from our fiber draw-tower facilities. Exploitation of the full array of advanced laser diagnostics in the laboratory should enable significant progress in this area over the coming years. The aim is to build a practical demonstration of a multi-aperture coherently combined system. More fundamentally, there is interest in better understanding and exploiting the underlying nonlinear optical processes for such a coherent combination scheme.

A fully funded PhD place on this project is available for UK students. Students from overseas who have secured external funding are also welcome to apply.

The physics and applications of optical comb

Supervisors: Prof D J Richardson
Co-supervisor: Dr Radan Slavik

Using recent developments in laser and frequency conversion it has become possible to produce laser sources providing a comb of spectral lines with spectral frequencies accurate to parts in a thousand, million, million. Such combs have revolutionised the accuracy with which time, frequency and distance can be measured and are opening a host of new device and application opportunities. 

The ORC has recently acquired a state of the art comb laser system and is investigating uses across a range of application sectors including high frequency waveform synthesis, optical sensing and metrology. We are offering a PhD position in the area of comb technology which will involve working on the various ongoing projects that we are running. The project would suit applicants with an interest in ultrafast lasers/nonlinear optics and/or ultrahigh precision measurements.  

Online Monitoring and Optical Characterisation of Holey/Microstructured Optical Fibres During Fabrication

Supervisor: Dr Marco Petrovich
Co-supervisor: Prof David J Richardson

Hollow core photonic bandgap fibres (HC-PBGFs) are amongst the most exciting developments in optical fibre technology of recent years. These fibres have a complex structure composed of highly regular arrays of hundreds of air holes and exploit photonic bandgap effects in order to achieve light confinement and guidance in a low refractive index, air core as opposed to a raised index glass core, as in conventional optical fibres. 

The ORC is internationally renowned for the development and fabrication of these fibres in our state of the art cleanroom complex and has strong research programmes aiming to develop this technology. Recently, we have developed world-leading HC-PBGFs in terms of combination of loss and guidance bandwidth for applications, such as telecoms, which demand fibres that not only provide very low attenuation, but also exceptional longitudinal uniformity and are available in extremely long lengths (see www.nature.com/nphoton/journal/v7/n4/abs/nphoton.2013.45.html ). In line with this work we have developed a unique portfolio of characterisation techniques to enable us to fabricate the next generation of fibres which can meet these demands. 

This project will enable the next leap forward by developing a new set of tools which will provide the means to characterise both the structural (including longitudinal uniformity) and optical properties of the fibre (such as guidance wavelength, loss) as the fibre is being drawn, permitting real-time feedback during the fabrication process.

The project will be both lab and cleanroom based. The individual undertaking the work will become skilled in both fabrication and characterisation of HC-PBGFs and work closely with several members of the holey fibre group.

The fabrication and applications of holey/microstructured fibres

Supervisor: Dr Marco Petrovich
Co-supervisors: Prof David Richardson and Dr Natalie Wheeler

Holey optical fibres, which comprise of a microscopic array of air holes in the centre of an otherwise solid fibre, present exciting new possibilities for a whole new generation of both active and passive optical fibre devices. This new form of fibre can possess optical properties that simply cannot be realised with conventional fibre types and looks set to play an important role in application areas as diverse as telecommunications, lasers, aerospace and fundamental physics. 

This project is concerned with the development of new fabrication techniques for this radically new form of fibre with a view to extending the range of possible fibre geometries (and hence the range of optical properties), improving the loss and precision with which these fibres can be made, and the development of new characterisation techniques. The project is also likely to require a significant element of device work in conjunction with the specialist individual groups who use these fibres within their immediate device/systems research programs. 

Specific ongoing research topics include the development of holey fibres for: hollow core photonic bandgap fibres and multicore fibres for datacom applications, nonlinear optical switching in high bit rate communication systems, high power laser delivery for laser machining and aerospace applications, high power (>100W) lasers, femtosecond pulse generation and compression and next generation communication networks. 

Gas-based sensing and spectroscopy applications of Hollow core Photonic bandgap fibres.

Supervisor: Dr Marco Petrovich
Co-supervisors: Dr Natalie Wheeler and Prof David Richardson

Hollow core photonic bandgap fibres (HC-PBGFs) are amongst the most exciting developments in optical fibre technology of recent years. These fibres have a very complex structure composed of highly regular arrays of hundreds of expanded air holes and exploit photonic bandgap effects in order to achieve light confinement and guidance in a low refractive index, air core as opposed to a raised index glass core, as in conventional optical fibres. 

The ORC is amongst the world leaders in the development and fabrication of these fibres in our state of the art cleanroom complex and has strong research programmes aiming to develop this technology. 

Amongst other properties, HC-PBGFs offer an ideal platform to create extremely efficient interaction between the guided light and gas species which can be loaded into the hollow core; this is attractive for a range of applications in gas sensing, spectroscopy and gas-based nonlinear optics. The reduced overlap between the guided light and glass structure also serves to substantially widen the transmission window of these fibres and allows for novel exciting opportunities to access wavelengths in the UV and mid-IR, traditionally outside the operating range of silica based fibres. 

We are offering a PhD project which will involve work on a few different programmes aimed to develop fibres and devices tailored for gas based sensing and metrology applications. The project will offer the opportunity to work in close collaboration with other academic and industrial partners.

High-capacity Silicon-based transceivers

Supervisor: Prof P Petropoulos
Co supervisors: Dr D J Thomson

Silicon Photonics is a promising platform offering the fabrication of cost effective devices servicing mainly the Datacom and short-to-medium reach communication markets. Southampton has extensive activities in this area with an emphasis on the implementation of high-speed silicon-based transceiver modules. 

This project sits at the heart of this activity and aims at the development of fast silicon modulators and the demonstration of transceivers based on such devices. The student working on this project will have the opportunity to work with both the Silicon Photonics and the Optical Fibre Communication groups of the ORC and will gain experience in experimentation on state-of-the-art high-speed communication testbeds. 

This highly experimental project is part of the six-year "Silicon Photonics for Future Systems" Programme Grant funded by the EPSRC.

Novel transmission and processing schemes for ultra-high speed telecommunication signals

Supervisor: Prof P Petropoulos
Co supervisors: Prof D J Richardson

The optical fibre communications industry faces some significant challenges in recent years. As transmission rates in optical networks constantly increase, and with the concerns over the energy consumption of communication networks becoming ever more relevant, there is a compelling argument for adopting new techniques for the implementation of signal processing of communication signals. On the other hand, the rise in demand for internet traffic is such that necessitates the adoption of new transmission techniques in order to ensure that the available bandwidth is sufficient. 

A range of projects in the Optical Fibre Communications Laboratory investigate technologies that address these challenges. The student working in this area will have the opportunity to work with new fibre types, combine them with state-of-the-art devices and identify their potential for applications. Topics of interest include the generation and manipulation of new frequencies, novel modulation formats, new transmission techniques and spatial-division multiplexing, format conversion, analogue-to-digital conversion and signal regeneration. 

The project benefits from established collaborations with other UK and European institutions. It makes use of the strong facilities of the telecommunication systems laboratory of the ORC. These include full electronic testing capabilities up to 56 Gbit/s, optical diagnostic tools with a bandwidth in excess of 500 GHz and a unique installed fibre transmission line originating from the lab, and linking the ORC to other collaborating laboratories across the UK

Inter-band nonlinear applications of silicon photonic waveguides

Supervisor: Prof P Petropoulos

The exciting prospect of compact highly nonlinear waveguides operating over broad wavelength ranges is likely to impact a multitude of application areas, spanning from communications to absorption spectroscopy, chemical and biological sensing and LIDAR applications. 

We have recently studied the nonlinear properties of silicon germanium alloys and shown that they are a suitable candidate for applications involving the translation of optical signals across largely spaced wavelength bands. 

In this project we are looking to explore the applications of nonlinear silicon germanium waveguides further through the design of application-specific devices. Applications of interest include phase-sensitive amplification, the nonlinear generation of broadband frequency combs and supercontinuum generation.

Spatio-Temporal Beam Tailored Fibre Lasers For Energy Resilient Manufacturing

Supervisor: Prof D J Richardson
Co-supervisors: Prof S U Alam, Dr J Price

Laser based materials processing provides an increasingly important component of the UK manufacturing sector and hence of the national economy. Within this PhD project we seek a ten-fold improvement in the energy efficiency and speed of laser based manufacturing. 

Exploiting the most recent advances in optical fibre communications technology we will develop a new generation of fibre lasers offering unprecedented levels of simultaneous control of the spatial, temporal and polarisation properties of the output beam. This will allow machinists to optimise the laser for particular light:matter interactions and to maximise the efficiency of each pulse in laser-based materials processing for the first time and should ultimately lead to a step-change in manufacturing control and novel low-energy manufacturing processes. 

We will work with our collaborators at the Centre for Ultraprecision as the University of Cambridge to demonstrate the benefits of the new laser in the later phases of the PhD and will also explore other potential applications in medicine and remote sensing amongst others.

Novel Fibre Technologies for Data Centre Applications

Supervisor: Prof D J Richardson
Co-supervisors: Dr M N Petrovich, Prof S U Alam

Connecting the many tens of thousands of servers in the data centres of today is becoming an increasing challenge due to the sheer volume of optical fibres used and the interconnection topologies employed. 

This PhD project is concerned with developing new fibre solutions for ultrahigh density computer interconnection over km scale distances with a view to improved physical connection to the server racks, reducing the latency of data transfer between servers and facilitating efficient signal routing. 

The PhD will run alongside a large European research program (COSIGN project) which is exploring the general issue of next generation data centre design. 

This project will involve close collaboration with leading European players in the data centre area.

Novel Fibre Technologies for Ultra-high Capacity (Petabit/s) Optical Networks

Supervisor: Prof D J Richardson
Co-supervisors: Dr Y Jung, Dr S U Alam

We are rapidly reaching fundamental limits in terms of how much information can be transmitted though the optical fibres used in the networks of today (estimated at between 100-200 Terabit/s per fibre with 100 Terabit/s now demonstrated in the laboratory and 10 Tbit/s in field installed commercial systems). This is limited by a number of factors including loss, cross-talk between channels due to nonlinear optical effects and the bandwidth of the amplifiers used. 

This PhD project is concerned with looking at radical new transmission fibre and amplifier technologies that will allow scaling of capacity to the Petabit/s level. 

The PhD will run alongside a major European/Japanese project (SAFARI) and will investigate the possibility of using multicore fibre to increase the data carrying capacity of optical cable, with a focus on developing an optical amplifier capable of simultaneously boosting the power of the signals independently propagating on each of the individual fibre cores. 

The PhD will involve close collaboration with major industrial partners in both Europe and Japan.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×