Skip to main content

Allied Initiative for Training and Education in Coherent Optical Networks

Final Report Summary - ICONE (Allied Initiative for Training and Education in Coherent Optical Networks)

The ICONE consortium was created with the goal of training a new generation of engineers and researchers in the most advanced optical transmission systems. At the time of the network’s inception, systems with a capacity of about 100 Gbit/s per fibre strand were under commercial installation around the Globe. The next generation focuses on system capacities of 10-100 Tbit/s. At such high capacities the influence of fiber nonlinearities becomes a strongly limiting factor, limiting the maximum optical power. European industry has a growing demand for well-trained staff working in all aspects of coherent optical communications, digital signal processing, hardware and software of new generation of systems, characterisation, measurements advanced modelling of such systems. Our project's aim was to fill the gap in the availability of high quality staff trained in these topics and provide the European industry with the workforce it requires.

The specific S&T training objectives of the network were to:

• Provide ESRs and ERs with training in the field of coherent optical communication systems.
• Develop a new generation of high-speed coherent optical communication systems.
• Developadvanced components for high-speed optical communications.
• Develop new cross-sectorial applications: fibre optical technologies for sensing and metrology.
• Progress in the advanced modelling of photonics.
• Ensure a smooth transition of innovation to industry.

The consortium has recruited and trained outstanding ESRs and ERs, who have excellent scientific and technical accomplishments. A number of cross-partner training events have taken place including 5 Annual Intensive PhD Training Courses, 4 Open Workshops and a Complementary Skills Training Workshop. All ERs and ESRs carried out secondments at partner institutions allowing them to benefit from the complementary expertise available at different partner institutions. Emphasis in their training has been placed not just on purely scientific skills, but on complementary ones as well, related to intellectual property and communication.
Some of the highlights of the scientific work-packages include the:

• Assessment of the combined influences of dispersion, laser phase noise and nonlinear parameters for high constellation systems.
• Optimisation of the fabrication process for nanophotonic components for integrated Si-photonics.
• Development and testing of novel fibre characterisation techniques and extended-range coherent distributed optical sensors.
• Extension of simulation models to address modulation with arbitrary constellations.
• Obtention of nonlinearity mitigation algorithms suitable for real-time implementation.
• Demonstration of dissipative parametric instability for pattern formation in nonlinear optical systems.
• Development of optimal distributed amplifier designs enabling nonlinearity mitigation via optical phase conjugation.
• Demonstration of mode-locking using parametric modulation in Raman fibre lasers.
• Development of novel Raman fiber laser sources.
• Development of machine-learning techniques for the mitigation of nonlinear phase noise and cross-talk effects.

This is reflected in 60 publications, 105 conference presentations and 3 patent applications.
ICONE trainees took full advantage of the designation of 2015 as the International Year of Light by UNESCO and organised similar activities in the following years. Trainees became part of local student bodies (EPS Young Minds guilds, SPIE, OSA student chapters), promoting and disseminating of science with great enthusiasm to society at large.
The programme has also established collaborative links between industrial and academic partners, leading to the exploitation of new opportunities.

In summary, ICONE has fulfilled its appointed role, offering its highly-motivated trainees a unique combination of specialist education and network-wide interdisciplinary/inter-sectorial training and research in the growing fields of optical communications and photonic applications. ICONE has exploited the complementary expertise of its members and developed a focused training programme aiming to bridge the gap between innovation and practical implementation. Through this strategy, the network is providing our young trainees with direct, hands-on experience on the industrial application of research methods and results, allowing them at the same time to feel and be part of the community that brings forth progress to the field.