The University of Southampton

Optical Fibre Communications

Developments in fibre technology have revolutionised society, allowing first low-cost, high-quality voice communications, and more recently the development of the internet. 

The group has been at the forefront of optical fibre communications since the very earliest days of the field providing several critical contributions including the invention of the erbium doped fibre amplifier – a device that eliminated fibre loss as the fundamental limiting factor to signal transmission and which is installed in all modern optical communication networks.

Optical communications remains by far the largest market for photonics and as such it represents one of the ORC’s primary research areas. Current topics of major interest include the use of optical signal processing to increase the speed and efficiency of optical networks, lasers and amplifiers for next generation telecommunication systems, and the development of ultrahigh bit rate data transmission technology.”

Group webpage

All PhD Projects: 

  • Entry Requirements: A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent) in physics or a related discipline. 
  • Funding: Full tuition plus, for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £20,000 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. Limited funding for international applicants may be available. Overseas students who have secured or are seeking external funding are also welcome to apply.
  • How to apply: Applications should be made online
  • Closing date: Applications are accepted throughout the year and several start dates throughout the year are possible. Applications for the typical Sept./Oct. 2023 start should be received no later than 31 August 2023.

 

PhD Projects:

Ultra-wideband optical transmission systems

Supervisory team: Professor Periklis Petropoulos, Kyle Bottrill

This is an opportunity to carry out a PhD at the Communications Systems Lab of the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC). The group has been at the forefront of optical fibre communications since the very earliest days of the field providing several critical contributions, including the invention of the erbium doped fibre amplifier – a device that eliminated fibre loss as the fundamental limiting factor to signal transmission and which is installed in all modern optical communication networks. Optical communications remains by far the largest market for photonics and as such it represents one of the ORC’s primary research areas. This project will explore radically new ways of implementing optical transmission systems.The communication networks that serve our everyday needs face an ever-growing demand for data communication traffic. Optical fibre transmission systems powered by erbium-doped fibre amplifiers have satisfied this demand over the last three decades or so. However, their capacity is currently reaching saturation, and the only apparent way forward is to keep installing more fibres. That is, unless some radically new solutions are to be adopted. 

This PhD project will explore experimentally the prospect of extending the usable bandwidth of optical fibres. This can be achieved by using novel amplification and transmission technologies, which are developed within the ORC. The project will analyse the use cases that shape the demand for ultra-wideband systems. Through a series of challenging experimental demonstrations, the student working on this project will explore the capabilities and limitations of the new solutions. This will be an opportunity to experience new technological solutions as they become available and shape the scene on optical transmission for years to come. 

The student working on this project will make use of the strong facilities of the telecommunication systems laboratory of the ORC. These include full electronic and optical signal generation and diagnostic capabilities and a direct connection to an installed fibre transmission line originating from the lab, linking the ORC to other collaborating laboratories across the UK (the UK’s NDFF). The project draws from the activities of the UKRI Programme Grant Airguide Photonics

 

Nonlinear applications of Si-rich SiN photonic waveguides

Supervisor: Periklis Petropoulos

This is an opportunity to carry out a PhD at the Communications Systems Lab of the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC). The group has been at the forefront of optical fibre communications since the very earliest days of the field providing several critical contributions, including the invention of the erbium doped fibre amplifier – a device that eliminated fibre loss as the fundamental limiting factor to signal transmission and which is installed in all modern optical communication networks. Optical communications remains by far the largest market for photonics and as such it represents one of the ORC’s primary research areas. This project relates to the development and applications of novel nonlinear waveguides. 

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 introduced silicon-rich silicon nitride as a promising nonlinear material and shown that it is a suitable candidate for applications involving the translation of optical signals across largely spaced wavelength bands. 

This is a project for a student interested in exploring applications of nonlinear silicon nitride waveguides through the design of application-specific devices. Applications of interest include phase-sensitive amplification, wavelength conversion, the nonlinear generation of broadband frequency combs and supercontinuum generation. Wherever relevant, the applications will be tested using the ORC’s extensive telecommunications systems infrastructure, which include ultrafast optical and electronic diagnostic tools for advanced modulation formats, as well as immediate access to the UK’s National Dark Fibre Facility (the UK’s NDFF) for experimentation on optical transmission. 

The project is underpinned by the EPSRC-funded project Silicon-rich silicon nitride Nonlinear Integrated Photonic ciRcuits & Systems (juNIPeRS).

 

Communication applications of hollow-core fibres

Supervisory teamPeriklis Petropoulos; David J Richardson

This is an opportunity to carry out a PhD at the Communications Systems Lab of the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC). The group has been at the forefront of optical fibre communications since the very earliest days of the field providing several critical contributions, including the invention of the erbium doped fibre amplifier – a device that eliminated fibre loss as the fundamental limiting factor to signal transmission and which is installed in all modern optical communication networks. Optical communications remains by far the largest market for photonics and as such it represents one of the ORC’s primary research areas. 

The ORC pioneers research on hollow-core optical fibres exhibiting characteristics that enable disruptive applications in several application fields. This PhD project will study the development and use of state-of-the-art hollow core optical fibres for both telecomm and datacomm applications. The research will include work concerned with 5G back-haul and datacentres as well as long-haul transmission and will look to exploit the many distinctive and enabling characteristics of these new fibres – including ultralow nonlinearity, low latency, high environmental stability, ultra-broadband operation, and ultimately the potential for ultralow propagation losses at different wavebands. Of particular interest is the transmission of heterogeneous signals through the fibre, which add functionality and intelligence to the optical network. 

The project capitalises on the long tradition of the ORC as a leading research centre for optical fibre technologies. It is supported with substantial funding from the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through the AirGuide Photonics Programme Grant, as well as a new £12M project aiming at tackling challenges towards future open networks. It is a highly experimental project based on the state-of-the-art telecommunications systems laboratory of the ORC. The successful candidate will join a team of around 20 researchers focussing on the field of hollow core fibres at Southampton, and will be required to work in collaboration both with colleagues responsible for fibre fabrication as well as an array of industrial and academic collaborators.

 

Raman Amplification Enabling Optical Phase Conjugation

Supervisory team: Kyle Bottrill; Periklis Petropoulos

Optical nonlinearities are arguably the current limiting factor for telecommunications in solid-core fibre. Optical phase conjugation (also known as mid-span spectral inversion) is one technique by which nonlinear impairments can be mitigated to increase transmission capacity. A key requirement of effective optical phase conjugation is having power profile symmetric about the point of spectral inversion and distributed Raman amplification remains one of the only technologies that can deliver this requirement. 

The student carrying out this project will develop techniques for high accuracy link power profile symmeterisation using multi-pump, high order distributed Raman amplification. As a topic, distributed Raman amplification lies at the intersection between optical telecommunications, optical amplification, and optical nonlinearity. The student undertaking this PhD will develop skills in all three of these areas, harnessing nonlinearity to deliver a transmission system capable of high capacity telecommunication. Ultimately, this project will enable the demonstration of a high performance optical phase conjugation equipped link through collaboration within the Optical Fibre Communications group. 

The project will benefit from the strong facilities of the telecommunication systems laboratory of the ORC. These include full electronic and optical signal generation and diagnostic capabilities and a direct connection to an installed fibre transmission line originating from the lab, linking the ORC to other collaborating laboratories across the UK (the UK’s NDFF). 

 

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