The University of Southampton

Microstructured Optical Fibres

This group is part of the Advanced Fibre Technologies & Applications Group led by Professor David J Richardson.

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Optical Fibre 2.0

Supervisor: Professor Francesco Poletti 
Co-Supervisors: Professor David Richardson, Dr John Hayes, Dr Joris Lousteau, Dr Walter Belardi, Dr Eric Numkam, Dr Greg Jasion

Fibre optics has revolutionised telecommunications, enabled the widespread diffusion of the internet and profoundly impacted industrial manufacturing, metrology, medical endoscopy and structural sensing, to name but a few. In many applications however, fibres are now being operated very close to fundamental physical limits of the glass that forms their core. For optical fibres to keep up with the 40% annual growth in global data traffic and with the 60% annual raise in power emitted by lasers, a transformative new technological step is required. Air guiding hollow core fibres – for which the group has a world-leading reputation - can provide a natural solution to help increasing the information capacity and power delivery capability of optical fibres.

We are looking for bright and motivated PhD students with a background in physics/engineering/material science and an interest in lasers, glass science and optics to embark on a very ambitious project, aiming to address these global challenges by developing the ‘ultimate’ hollow core optical fibre. As part of a well-funded, prestigious European project, a number of PhD positions are available, where working alongside experienced researchers in a fast-paced and stimulating environment, students will have the opportunity to contribute to the development of a radically new form of optical fibre with the potential to guide light with record low loss at the speed of light in vacuum, and to transmit it undistorted, in a single transversal mode, at peak intensities that would destroy any conventional glass fibre. This could represent the future of data transmission and laser power delivery, and enable futuristic new applications in, for example, laser driven particle acceleration or ultraprecise long distance transfer of timing signals and optical frequencies.

PhD projects are available in the areas of:

1. Advanced electromagnetics and fluid dynamics modelling of this radically new form of fibre; 
2. Novel fabrication and characterization techniques for fibres with revolutionary optical properties, in various glasses and/or polymers compositions; 
3. Innovative glass preparation and novel preform fabrication methods; 
4. Application of these novel fibres in forward-looking datacoms/optical communications networks, in high power laser delivery for machining and scientific applications, and for biomedical and mid-infrared sensing (in collaboration with other academic groups worldwide and with industrial partners supporting the project, which include Nokia Bell Labs, the UK National Physical Laboratory and SPI lasers)

The students will have the opportunity to develop a wide range of highly employable skills, including fibre fabrication and characterization expertise, advanced numerical modelling skills, and photonics related material science know-how, while acquiring application-specific knowledge and interacting with a wide network of world-leading experts.

Fabrication and Applications of Hollow Core Fibres

Supervisor: Professor Francesco Poletti
Co-supervisor: Dr Natalie Wheeler

Hollow core microstructured fibres represent one of the most exciting developments in fibre technology in recent years; in these fibres >99% of the guided light travels in air, enabling optical properties, such as ultra-low non-linearity and ultimate low latency, that cannot be achieved in conventional fibres.

In this project, we will develop novel fabrication techniques for this radically new form of fibre with a view to extend the range of possible fibre geometries (and hence the range of optical properties) and to improve the loss and precision with which these fibres can be made. This work will be primarily based in our state-of-the-art cleanroom. The fabricated fibres will be used for a wide range of applications including high power laser delivery, gas sensing and mid-infrared transmission, which will provide opportunities to collaborate with both internal and external partners.

The successful student will develop a wide range of skills including fibre fabrication and characterization, while acquiring application specific knowledge and interacting with a diverse network of people and working closely with other members of the Microstructured Optical Fibre group.

Loss mechanisms in hollow optical fibers

Supervisor: Professor Francesco Poletti
Co-Supervisors: Dr Eric Numkam Fokoua, Dr Gregory Jasion

Because of their unique properties derived from confining and guiding light in a hollow region rather than in a solid material, hollow optical fibers hold a great promise for a wide range of applications, including high power delivery, gas sensing and in particular optical communications.

Remarkable breakthroughs at the ORC over the past few years have shown that data can be transmitted over long distances (several 10s of km) in a hollow fibre, travelling much faster than in a glass fibre and with comparable data transmission capacity (>50 Tbit/s).

For wide deployment of these fibers in data transmission applications, it is imperative for their attenuation to be reduced to lower levels than currently achieved. Significant progress made over the past few years has led to the understanding that a scattering process arising at the glass/air interface impose a fundamental limit on the attenuation that can be achieved in these fibers. Other sources of attenuation, especially of extrinsic nature such as microbending for example or indirect loss via coupling of the lossier fiber modes, are less well understood or studied but equally important.

In this PhD project, the candidate will work within a world-leading team at the ORC to develop theoretical models and/or experiments for the studies of loss mechanisms in hollow fibers, and to develop adequate loss reduction strategies for next generation hollow core fiber technology. 

Optical fibres for the transmission of extreme intensities

Supervisor: Professor Francesco Poletti 
Co-Supervisor: Dr Gregory Jasion

Hollow microstructured optical fibres use a delicate glass lattice to guide light, typically drawn from an assembly of glass tubes. They offer many advantages over conventional solid fibres, such as low latency and low non-linearity, and can be used in a number of applications, such as high power laser delivery or spectroscopy.

These fibres are interesting for high power applications because the light mostly travels in the air and is not limited by the damage threshold of the glass. Nevertheless, some light-glass interaction does occur and this can lead to fibre damage when extreme laser intensities (e.g. several 100s MW!) are transmitted. This project will develop a theory for understanding the limitations of transmitting extremely high powers in these types of fibres that will help breaking new fibre based power transmission limits.

During this PhD you will work closely with a team of experts in theory, fabrication and characterisation of microstructure fibres. You will develop valuable insight through your investigations and work with the group on the next generation of these fibres.

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