EPSRC-SFI:Energy Efficient M Communication using Combs (EEMC)

Lead Research Organisation: Aston University
Department Name: College of Engineering and Physical Sci

Abstract

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 allowing ready access to information otherwise inaccessible. In parallel with the consistent exponential increase (quadrupling every 4 years) in broadband access rates, optical transceivers used in the core of the communications network have typically grown in bandwidth at the same rate, excepting a small and temporary downturn associated with the introduction of coherent technologies. Today, just as broadband demands begin to outstrip the capabilities of the incumbent technology (twisted pair copper cables) requiring new technology (optical fibre) to be deployed, bandwidth demands in the core network are exceeding the capabilities of single carrier modulation.
In this project we will develop low cost all optical techniques to continue to expand the bandwidth of the transceivers which power the internet. Our all optical solution has the potential to be compact, suiting applications both within data centres operated by the likes of Google, Facebook and Microsoft and within the core international networks. The solution will address important challenges at such high bandwidths, such as synchronisation, noise and digital signal processing. If successful EEMC2 will deliver a transponder with more than an order of magnitude more capacity than those commercially available, equivalent of a Gb broadband connection rather than 70 Mb.

Planned Impact

The primary societal impact of EEMC2 will be to enhance the bandwidth of the internet, required to support the roll out of full-fibre based broadband solutions and will consequently have significant economic impact. By working with the UK and Irish industry, solutions developed in EEMC2 will support the development of high bit rate services which enable outstanding service delivery of, for example, low latency high definition video conferencing for domestic use and low latency transoceanic transmission for financial trading. By allowing for the development of a core network of sufficient capacity, EEMC2 will enable the increased effectiveness of initiatives, such as e-medicine and e-public services and will so contribute to the quality of life. Similarly, by preventing an exponential growth in network energy consumption, EEMC2 will contribute to environmental sustainability.
Scientifically, EEMC2 proposes to extend previous collaboration between the communications activities of two of the leading centres of excellence in photonics with the ambition of significantly enhancing their existing influence through increased scope of research and critical mass. Specifically EEMC2 will:

1. Maintain a high quality core science programme in collaboration with UK partners within the network equipment and operator communities. Together Ellis and Barry have published over 700 peer reviewed conference and journal papers and both collaborate widely in Europe, partnering in 10 EU Framework 6/7 and Horizon 2020 projects since 2006. In addition to UK collaborations, EEMC2 intends to continue to play a leading role in major European programmes with companies such as BT, Eblana Photonics, Kiaim, Pilot Photonics, Teropta and Oclaro.

2. Create industry-relevant technologies and products. This will involve the generation of valuable IP (targeting 2 patent applications, one know how transfer, or one spin out company per year). This process will be managed by DCU, with whose cooperation the applicants have already launched a start-up company, Pilot Photonics, and with support from the Aston Business Partnership Unit.

3. Communicate regularly with local photonics industry, ensuring the industrial relevance of the research and providing direct exploitation routes benefiting the UK economy. In addition to working with the major multi-national companies, the project will support the growth of existing SMEs by helping to develop innovative new products, enabling access to new sources of research funding, and providing training. EEMC2 will also support the creation of new ventures and the project will recruit and train highly-skilled people to the direct benefit of UK and RoI industry.

4. Fostering public awareness through education and outreach programmes, encouraging all PhD students to participate in Aston Universities and DCU's outreach programmes, and participating personally in appropriate events with a wider public audience. Press-releases to non-specialist journals and professional magazines will also be used to publicize breakthroughs of particular importance to the wider public.

5. We anticipate that a successful execution of this proposal will lead to significant international interest in associated technologies. We will welcome the participation of other international research groups in advancing the knowledge base and increasing the likelihood of adoption of our own work. To foster this interaction, at appropriate times and in collaboration with other EPSRC and SFI funded programmes, we will organise international workshops to facilitate direct scientific exchange and future collaborations.

Thus the overall program of research enabled by this project is expected to have wide ranging benefits to the scientific community (development of a new approach to communication system design) the communications industry (simultaneous increase in available capacity and reduction in energy consumption) and wider society.

Publications

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Donodin A. (2022) 195-nm Multi-Band Amplifier Enabled by Bismuth-doped Fiber and Discrete Raman Amplification in 2022 European Conference on Optical Communication, ECOC 2022

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Donodin A. (2022) 50 Gbaud QPSK E-band Transmission Using Bismuth Doped Fiber Amplifiers in 2022 Optical Fiber Communications Conference and Exhibition, OFC 2022 - Proceedings

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Donodin A. (2022) 50 Gbaud QPSK E-band Transmission Using Bismuth Doped Fiber Amplifiers in Optics InfoBase Conference Papers

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Nguyen T.T. (2021) Digital Compensation of Residual Pump Dithering in Optical Phase Conjugation of High-Order QAM in 2021 Optical Fiber Communications Conference and Exhibition, OFC 2021 - Proceedings

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Freire P.J. (2022) Domain Adaptation: the Key Enabler of Neural Network Equalizers in Coherent Optical Systems in 2022 Optical Fiber Communications Conference and Exhibition, OFC 2022 - Proceedings

 
Description This project has been working towards increasing the total bandwidth of communications from a single item of equipment (line card), concentrating in this first phase on the digital signal processing required for higher order modulation.

The group at Aston (EP/S016171/1), completed preliminary activities on digital signal processing to enable the high order modulation of individual comb lines using conventional DA and AD converters. This included the achievement of probabilistically shaped and polarisation multiplexed 256QAM, machine learning for compensation of transceiver and transmission nonlinearity, and phase recovery including the mitigation of the impact of deterministic phase modulation. The results are in the process of dissemination in both published journals (T. Nguyen, T. Zhang, E. Giacoumidis, A.A. Ali, M.Tan, P. Harper, L. Barry, A.D. Ellis, "Coupled Transceiver-Fiber Nonlinearity Compensation Based on Machine Learning for Probabilistic Shaping System", Journal of Lightwave Technology, Vol. 39, No. 2, pp. 388-399, DOI: 10.1109/JLT.2020.3029336 (2021)), and submitted conference contributions (T.T. Nguyen, S. Boscolo, A.A.I. Ali, S. Sygletos, S. Takasaka, R. Sugizaki, and A.D. Ellis, "Digital Compensation of Residual Pump Dithering in Optical Phase Conjugation of High-Order QAM", submitted to OFC 2021; and T.T. Nguyen, S. Boscolo, A.A.I. Ali, M. Tan, T. Zhang, S. Takasaka, R. Sugizaki, S. Sygletos, and A.D. Ellis, "Kernel-Based Learning-Aided Phase Noise Compensation in Dual-Pump Optical Phase Conjugation QAM System", submitted to OFC 2021). In addition, the group has completed the procurement of equipment to support the activities of this grant, including a 120 Gs/s arbitrary waveform generator, and participated in outreach activities such as the IEEE HOPES seminar series and the Tommy Flowers Network. Unfortunately, progress has been substantially slowed by the UK response to the pandemic, preventing sustained access to the laboratory. This has been mitigated by refocussing activities on theoretical and numerical analysis of enhanced transmitter and receiver technologies. Component purchasing to implement these schemes is now well under way, but further delayed by the impact of COVID-19 on supplier's delivery times.
Exploitation Route It is anticipated that project partners will be able to licence protectable IP from this activity.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)

 
Description In the light of the current pandemic, the availability of core and access networks of the types developed in this project to support high capacities has proven essential to enable home working and on-line shopping to enable self isolation. It as particularly gratifying to see that, in June 2020, data clearly demonstrated the positive enviromental impact of home working through the dramitic reduction in unecessary travel. Further afield, optical technologies developed under this project have had international impact, with the PI is now funded through a Royal Academy of Engineering grant to support the deployment of rapid deployment optical solutions to informal communities at low cost. The outreach strategies of this project also enable a wider community to be engaged, ranging from high school children at that critical point during their decision making process through participation in the Big Bang fair and through an event at ECOC 2019 (Dublin) headlined by Prof Brian Cox. Additional suport of RA careers has been provided in collaboration with the Tommy Flowers Network" and through the IEEE Photonics Society UK and Ireland Branch series HOPES. Furthermore, support has been provided to Pilot Photonics in terms of the development of optical modulators using ring reasonators (patent pending) and the test and development of fast tuneable laser sources.
First Year Of Impact 2022
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Advanced Optical Frequency Comb Technologies and Applications
Amount £1,722,850 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/W002868/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2022 
End 09/2027
 
Description Fibre before the fibre: Bridging the Digital Divide in Informal Settlements
Amount £80,000 (GBP)
Funding ID CoSE 313671 
Organisation Royal Academy of Engineering 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2021 
End 04/2023
 
Description High Dimensional Wireless Passive Optical Networking for Access Deployment (PON-HD)
Amount £562,149 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/T009047/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2020 
End 03/2023
 
Description Silicon waveguide based-optical phase conjugation for high spectral efficiency superchannel transmission systems
Amount £8,000 (GBP)
Funding ID IEC\NSFC\201406 
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2021 
End 03/2023
 
Title Coupled Transceivers-Fiber Nonlinearity Compensation Based on Machine Learning for Probabilistic Shaping System 
Description  
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
URL https://researchdata.aston.ac.uk/id/eprint/460
 
Title Data underpinning article "Single-wavelength transmission at 1.1-Tbit/s net data rate over a multi-modal free-space optical link using commercial devices" 
Description Data behind publication 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2022 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact n.a. 
URL https://researchdata.aston.ac.uk/id/eprint/540
 
Title Mode division multiplexing free space optical transmission 
Description Data behind publication 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2022 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None known 
URL https://researchdata.aston.ac.uk/id/eprint/538
 
Description Optical comb sources 
Organisation Pilot Photonics
Country Ireland 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Support of product demonstrations, research into novel configurations of optical comb sources, general instance specific consultancy services
Collaborator Contribution Access to market data. FInancial contributions
Impact Reportable outputs pending
Start Year 2014
 
Description IEEE Hopes 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact To discuss the long term future of Optical Communications, as part of an IEEE organised series of forard looking presentations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://photonics-ukireland.org/hopes/
 
Description Professor Brian Cox: Exploring the Universe 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Schools outreach event associated with ECOC 2019 in Dublin. Participated in organsiation and fundraising.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.ecoc2019.org/special-events1.html
 
Description The Big Bang Fair 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Participation in stand, highlighting maths skills
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Tommy Flowers Network 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Even focused on researcher career paths, in particualr from PhD towards Professor or industry appointment. Hosted by BT via the Tommy Flowers Network as an online event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://tommyflowersnetwork.blogspot.com/2020/08/2020-autumn-conference-lets-get_77.html