A new EU-funded project to boost the capacity and efficiency of the next generation of optical networks has just got underway. The PHASORS ('Phase sensitive amplifier systems and optical regenerators and their applications') initiative is funded under the 'Information and communication technology' (ICT) Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to the tune of EUR 3.9 million. The aim of PHASORS is to develop and demonstrate new technologies, such as Phase Sensitive Amplification (PSA), that have the potential to significantly enhance both the transmission capacity and energy efficiency of optical communication networks. This field is still relatively new, and the project should help to make Europe a world leader in this emerging area. The project results are expected to be used in a wide range of fields including communications, sensing, aerospace, metrology, quantum communications and medicine. The project's seven partners include universities and research centres in six EU Member States. They bring with them extensive expertise in the fields on non-linear optics, optical fibre communication, semiconductor optoelectronics, high performance lasers and the production of custom optical fibres, to name just a few. The project, which will run until the middle of 2011, is coordinated by the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton in the UK. 'This project brings together the best of Europe's components and systems innovators to develop the critical components and subsystems required for future ultrahigh capacity optical communications networks,' explained Professor David Richardson at the ORC. 'While the technical challenges to be overcome are significant and should not be underestimated, success in the project should ultimately allow more effective use of the phase and amplitude of optical data signals, providing major capacity and cost benefits to network providers alike.' In addition to developing new, high-performance components and techniques, the project partners will develop novel testing and measuring equipment and demonstrate their results in beyond Next Generation Networks (b-NGN) system demonstrators. John Magan, the EU project officer for PHASORS, was full of praise for the initiative. 'The PHASORS proposal was one of the highest rated by the evaluators and I look forward to working with the team as they progress toward the challenging project objectives,' he commented. 'The project tackles one of the key aspects highlighted in the FP7 ICT programme. In addition to direct forefront technical demonstrations of phase sensitive amplifiers, the components developed within PHASORS can potentially be widely applied in other ICT projects and beyond in future networks.'