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

PhD Projects:

Ultra-wideband optical transmission systems

Supervisor: Professor Periklis Petropoulos
Co-supervisor: Professor David Richardson

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: Professor Periklis 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 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 Infrastructure for experimentation on optical transmission.

The project is underpinned by the EPSRC-funded project (juNIPeRS).

Communications applications of hollow-core optical fibres

Supervisor: Professor Periklis Petropoulos
Co-supervisor: 
Professor David Richardson

The Optoelectronics Research Centre 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.

The project capitalises on the long tradition of the ORC as a leading research centre for optical fibre technologies and is supported with substantial funding from the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through the AirGuide Photonics Programme Grant. 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 collaborators.

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

Supervisor: Professor Periklis Petropoulos
Co supervisors: Dr Kyle Botrill

The optical fibre communications industry has been facing 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 specific interest include the generation and manipulation of new frequencies; the use of  novel modulation formats in transmission systems; the mitigation of nonlinear impairments in transmission using optical techniques; and the introduction of new optical transmission bands.

This PhD project will benefit from established collaborations with other UK and European institutions. It is associated with significant research initiatives at the ORC, including the EPSRC Programme Grant Airguide Photonics and the projects PHOS and COALESCE.

This is a predominantly experimental project that makes 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).

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