The Transforming the Internet Infrastructure The Photonics Hyperhighway programme encompasses the following key areas of research:

Advanced transmission fibres

Our aim is to achieve a leap forward in the fabrication of new fibres and the associated materials. We are interested in the development of new photonic fibres capable of delivering up to a thousand-fold improvement in overall performance for telecom applications, by seeking to simultaneously lower both the loss and the nonlinearity, while also extending the transmission bandwidth. We are investigating new glasses for transmission, such as fluorides and tellurites, which are capable of IR transmission to 3μm (and beyond).

Amplification and regeneration

We are developing amplifiers to work across the entire wavelength window, requiring new gain media for the IR. We are investigating previously thought unconventional (for telecommunications) rare earths, as well as Raman amplifiers. Recent advances in supercontinuum laser sources are looking interesting as pump candidates for ultrabroadband Raman amplifiers, with 10x the amplification window of current EDFAs. New regeneration concepts based on phase-sensitive amplification are investigated for reducing the phase noise in transmission systems.

Nonlinear switching and processing

We aim to develop key functionalities in optical signal distribution, in order to bypass energy-hungry optical-electronic-optical (OEO) interfaces. Novel nanophotomechanical fibre devices will be investigated, with switching as well as direct fibre-to-wireless potential applications. We exploit the higher nonlinearity and flexibility of chalcogenide glasses, phase-change and other emerging optoelectronic materials. In the scope of our work, we will also import relevant new nanophotonic technologies and plasmonics from the Nanophotonics Programme Grant at Southampton as they emerge.

System and Network design

Disruptive components drive network architectures and concepts. We will take an open approach to networks, unencumbered by legacy, but focused on step changes towards clean-slate networking. This research philosophy will motivate technology requirements and drive refinements. We use a number of tools to support this work including network and system level simulations, practical measurements, network demonstrations and field trials.