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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R023123/1
Title: Adaptive Reliable Receivers for Optical Wireless communication (ARROW)
Principal Investigator: Safari, Dr M
Other Investigators:
Haas, Professor H Henderson, Professor RK
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
McMaster University ST Microelectronics
Department: Sch of Engineering
Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 July 2018 Ends: 30 June 2021 Value (£): 370,768
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Optical Communications Optoelect. Devices & Circuits
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Communications
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
27 Nov 2017 EPSRC ICT Prioritisation Panel Nov 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The gradual shrinkage of cell sizes in mobile cellular networks and applying frequency reuse techniques has been the main approach to cope with the exponential growth of capacity demands over the last few decades. However, the outdoor deployment of 5G cells will require a large-scale expansion of the backhaul network. The most preferred backhaul solution is based on highly reliable and high-speed fibre optic links; however, their use is limited to a fraction of the current backhaul network because of overwhelming installation costs. Free space optical (FSO) communication is an attractive alternative solution that provides high-capacity but cost-effective wireless backhaul connectivity without interfering with radio frequency (RF) communication systems. However, despite decades of technological advances, FSO links still suffer from availability issues in the form of occasional long outages in adverse weather conditions. This is because classical high-speed FSO receivers such as avalanche photodiodes (APDs) may totally fail under low visibility weather conditions. The important question is, therefore, whether we can build high-speed atmospheric optical communication links that can reliably operate over all weather conditions while providing data rates beyond their RF counterparts.

ARROW aims to address the question above by combining classical and quantum optical receptions to allow for adaptive operation of FSO receivers within a wide range of sensitivity levels while keeping high-speed communication. However, highly sensitive quantum detectors such as single photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) are not practically suitable for terrestrial FSO links as they can easily saturate at typically high irradiance levels experienced at such links while their bandwidth is limited by effects such as dead time. ARROW's hybrid receiver employs an APD along with a large array of SPADs integrated into a single chip. The large size of array effectively relaxes the saturation issue of the SPAD-based detector while allowing for spectrally efficient modulations that can significantly improve its achievable data rate.

ARROW receivers will combine the functionality of the classical and quantum detectors using hard and soft optical switching and efficient digital signal processing to support adaptive operation based on the slow varying weather condition. In order to design efficient switching and signal processing, we will develop an accurate but tractable theoretical model that describes the hybrid channel in terms of different atmospheric effects (e.g., visibility and background light level) and their interaction with the hybrid receiver's characteristics (e.g., SPAD dead time, detectors field of view, and optical splitting ratio). Based on this model, a number of optical frontend designs and advanced modulation and joint coding schemes will be proposed to enhance both data rate and reliability of the receiver. Finally, the adaptive functionalities of the hybrid receiver will be experimentally demonstrated and validated. ARROW FSO receivers are expected to provide carrier grade availability for a wide range of practical link geometries and geographical locations.

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