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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S003436/1
Title: Photonic Phase Conjugation Systems (PHOS)
Principal Investigator: Ellis, Professor AD
Other Investigators:
Doran, Professor NJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
BT Huawei Technologies Co Limited (Global) OFS Fitel, LLC. (International)
Phoenix Xtera Communications Limited
Department: Sch of Engineering and Applied Science
Organisation: Aston University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 September 2018 Ends: 31 August 2021 Value (£): 902,113
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Optical Communications Optical Devices & Subsystems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Communications
Related Grants:
EP/S002871/1
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
04 Jul 2018 EPSRC ICT Prioritisation Panel July 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The remarkable success of the internet is unquestioned, touching all aspects of our daily lives and commerce. This success is fundamentally underpinned by the tremendous capacity of unseen underground and undersea optical fibre cables and the technologies associated with them. Indeed, the initial surge in web usage in the mid 1990s coincides with the commissioning of the first optically amplified transatlantic cable network, TAT12/13 that allowed ready access to information otherwise inaccessible. Similarly, the remarkable growth of social media is supported by the introduction of optical fibres into data centres, allowing their tremendous growth. Exponential growth has been a characteristic of data communications since their first introduction in the 1970's and has been fuelled by the gradual introduction of radical technologies, such as optical amplification, wavelength-division multiplexing and coherent modulation. All of these technologies are today routinely deployed and it is widely acknowledged that fibres are becoming full. The limit to fibre capacity has its origin in the fact that the intense signals are significantly distorted by nonlinearly (a similar effect to overdriving loudspeakers). This distortion limits the maximum amount of information which may be transmitted across and optical fibre link, and unless combated, the nonlinear response will result in a capacity crunch, limiting access to the internet to today's levels. Faced with the ongoing exponential growth in demand, unless these restrictions are lifted many parallel systems will be required, resulting in exponentially increasing energy consumption, until the cost of this resource becomes prohibitive and finally curtails growth.

Only one technology, optical phase conjugation (acting like a mirror for colours), has been shown to offer the prospect of supporting continued internet growth without the need for widespread use of multiple fibres and the associated growth in energy consumption. Very much like Newton's Prisms, optical phase conjugation allows the distortion of one fibre (analogous to spectral spreading in Newton's prisms) to be compensated by a second identical fibre.

In PHOS, we will

- Optimise the devices which perform this conjugation, both in terms of the assessment of fundamental nonlinear materials and in terms of optimised sub-system configuration.

- Demonstrate orders of magnitude increase in the capabilities of optical fibres for both practical point-to-point links with non-uniform span lengths and for optical networks with a plethora of diverse routes.

- Verify that the use of optical phase conjugation is cost effective, both in terms of reducing the cost of a network deployment compared to existing products and in terms of enhancing the service provided to customers through higher capacity with lower latency.

Furthermore, as optical phase conjugation will transform the capabilities of the network, PHOS will work to remove bottlenecks within the network transmitters and receivers, increasing their performance by an order of magnitude, resulting in 10 times faster connections. The approach of compensating impairments in the optical domain, combined with simplified digital signal processing and enhanced exploitation of fibre bandwidth will reduce the cost, size and power consumption associated with providing 10's of Tbit/s of capacity per optical fibre.

If successful, PHOS will enable massively increased data capacities from the employment of Optical Phase Conjugation, giving the UK the most advanced optical communication network and a strong position to become a leading supplier of the technology worldwide.

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Organisation Website: http://www.aston.ac.uk