Southampton, University scientists reveal breakthrough in fibre communications

Created January 7, 2015
Applications and Research

Researchers from the University of Southampton have revealed what they are calling “a breakthrough” in optical fibre communications.

Academics from the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) have collaborated with colleagues at Eblana Photonics, Dublin, Ireland, to develop an approach that enables direct modulation of laser currents to generate what they call “highly advanced modulation format signals”.

The research, which was published in December 2014 in Nature Communications*, explores a new approach to generating the spectrally efficient advanced modulation format signals, which are needed to support the latest optical communication systems.

This new technology, which is now patented by the University of Southampton and licensed to Eblana Photonics Inc, avoids the need for costly and power-inefficient external modulator schemes that are currently used to generate such signals..

Dr Radan Slavik, Principal Research Fellow at the ORC, commented, “Our paper highlights the precise control that we have achieved over the optical field generated directly from a current-modulated semiconductor laser.”

Direct current modulated lasers are of huge commercial relevance and are already widely used in optical communications, telecommunications and sensor and high-power fibre laser systems. However, the inability to accurately control the full optical field emitted directly from such lasers has been a fundamental problem limiting applications.

Dr Slavik explained, “The new capability we have demonstrated will be of relevance and could be of significant impact within many scientific and engineering communities that are directly concerned with or exploit laser radiation.

“We have previously presented some of the results included in this paper at conferences, which has already generated a lot of interest from senior academics in our community, as well as from leading industrial players.”

Dr Rob Lennox, Director of Sales at Eblana Photonics said, “We are very pleased to have collaborated on this innovative development work performed by the ORC team and are looking towards making this new approach a commercial reality.”

* The paper, entitled Modulator-free Optical QAM Signal Synthesis, was co-authored by Zhixin Liu, Radan Slavík, and David J. Richardson from the ORC, Brian Kelly, John O’Carroll, and Richard Phelan from Eblana Photonics, and former Southampton PhD student Joseph Kakande, now at Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs, USA. Link: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/141219/ncomms6911/full/ncomms6911.html

By Matthew Peach

See also: http://www.orc.soton.ac.uk/890.html

Matthew Peach

This article was written
by Matthew Peach

Matthew Peach is a freelance technology journalist specialising in photonics and communications. He has previously worked for several business-to-business publishers, editing a range of high-tech magazines and websites.