Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - 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, i.e. high capacity high constellation coherent systems using digital signal processing (DSP). At the time of the network’s inception, systems with a capacity of about 100 Gbit/s per fibre strand were under commercial test/installation in the core network around the Globe. The next generation research and development focuses on system capacities of 10-100 Tbit/s or more. A holistic system view must be kept in mind when designing systems at such high capacities (approaching the nonlinear Shannon limit of about 10 bit/s/Hz when aggregating/multiplexing the capacity of several systems in one fiber), since the influence of fiber nonlinearities becomes a strongly limiting design factor and the material properties of the optical fiber will limit the maximum optical power. High capacity coherent systems are currently under investigation and test at universities, research institutes and leading component and system vendors. The investigation deals with the development of suitable components and software ICs for the systems (i.e. laser diodes and electrical/optical modulators for the Tx, high speed AD/DA circuits and DSP circuits for the Rx/Tx), as well as with system performance verification when fiber imperfections like dispersion, laser phase noise, attenuation, polarization, non-linear properties and even the risk of fiber fuse are significant. The European industry is in a explosively growing demand of engineers, researchers and staff well trained 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 aims to fill in the gap in 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 are:

• To provide ESRs and ERs with a complete education and cross-sectional training programme in the field of coherent optical communications and photonic systems and thus leverage the strength of the EU in the strategic field of photonics.
• To develop a new generation of high-speed coherent optical communication systems (from 400 Gbit to 10 Tbit per channel) including transmission and signal processing technologies, systems and subsystems.
• To design, develop and fabricate advanced components for high-speed optical communications including high-speed modulators, fibre optical amplifiers, new photonic crystal fibre for dispersion management, Raman fibre polarizers, fibre lasers, and other devices.
• To develop new cross-sectorial applications: fibre optical technologies for sensing and metrology based on coherent encoding, transmission and detection.
• To progress in the advanced modelling of photonics components, sub-systems and systems (cross-activity).
• To ensure a smooth transition of innovation to industry through direct involvement of stakeholders in all the elements of the chain from academic institutes and research centres to companies.

During the first 24 months of the project the consortium has focused on the recruitment of outstanding ESRs and ERs and their initial training. In spite of a variety of start dates, scientific and technical progress has been good, with most of the ESRs having achieved excellent progress into their research programs, while the last ones to join have already completed their basic training, background review and initial research in line with their individual development plans.

Local and cross-partner training events have taken place according to the planned schedule, with the ESRs and ERs benefiting from the complementary expertise available at different partner institutions, and secondments have been successfully carried out by the ESRs and ERs following the planned timetable, revised to account for their individual recruitment dates and optimal impact in their research programme. Emphasis has been placed not just on purely scientific skills, but on complementary ones as well, related to intellectual property and communication, which will have an even longer-term impact on their careers.

Important progress has been obtained in all the scientific workpackages, with many of the planned milestones having been achieved ahead of their scheduled time, and several of those scheduled for the longer term having been already partially completed. Some of the highlights include:

• The analysis of spectrum, constellation and transmission distance dependencies for de development of reconfigurable optical systems.
• The optimisation of the fabrication process for nano-photonic components for integrated Si-photonic components and its confirmation through advanced material tests.
• The development and testing of novel phase-sensitive fibre characterisation techniques and extended-range phase-sensitive distributed optical sensors.
• The extension of simulation models to address single-carrier modulation with arbitrary constellations.
• The demonstration of the potential use of dissipative parametric instability for pattern formation in nonlinear optical systems.
• The development of optimal, RIN-suppressed distributed amplifier designs for the mitigation of nonlinearities in coherent transmission systems via optical phase conjugation.
• The development of machine-learning techniques for the mitigation of Kerr-noise induced nonlinear phase noise and cross-talk effects.

The excellent quality of the scientific and technical work carried out by the ERs and ESRs of the ICONE network so far is reflected in 11 high-impact published journal papers, 35 conference presentations and 2 patent applications.

ICONE trainees have been actively involved in a number of outreach events, taking full advantage of the designation of 2015 as the International Year of Light by UNESCO and the multiple events organised at their host institutions. Multiple trainees have also joined local student bodies such as the EPS Young Minds guilds, SPIE or Optical Society of America student chapters, devoted in large part to the promotion and dissemination of science, and have taken to it with great enthusiasm, contributing to the generation of a better link between the world of scientific endeavour and society at large.

The programme impact has also been felt in the establishment of collaboration links between industrial and academic partners, and the exploitation of new opportunities for the co-evolution of technology and applications in communications and sensing.

In summary, over its first 24 months, 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.

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United Kingdom


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