This research area focuses on novel techniques and systems for transporting information by fibre-guided or free-space photons, including analogue and digital signals.
This research area aims to increase the capacity, speed, flexibility, availability, efficiency and security of optical communications on all length scales, from sub-micron (intra-chip) to mega-metres (transoceanic links).
Research in this area can include, for example:
- optical signal generation and processing for advanced modulation formats
- transmission and switching – including wavelength, space, polarisation and time division multiplexing.
This area also addresses intelligent networking, including integration with wireless communications and non-linear optical techniques.
The strategy for this research area recognises the UK strength in this area and the contribution it makes to the communication of information in an increasingly connected world.
The UK community is in a good position to respond to challenges originating from future demands to increase capacity in the optical communications network. This is because of the continued development of information and communications technologies (ICT) under the influence of both big data and the internet of things.
Sustain the growth in information loads
We aim to have a research area that focuses on medium and longer-term concepts and solutions to sustain the growth in information loads being carried by communications systems.
Transport large amounts of data
We also aim to have a research area that contributes to the development of efficient, flexible, secure and reliable communications infrastructure. Through that contribution, it will enable large amounts of data to be intelligently transported and managed over a variety of length scales. This will ensure the ability of the networks to continue to deliver the services demanded.
Interaction with other research communities
The international landscape is moving towards a converged, cross-disciplinary approach to communications.
While this research area does not require further specific stimulus, it should continue to maximise the impact of research undertaken within it by adopting an approach that encourages systems thinking beyond the traditional optical communications domain.
This requires efforts to bring about greater interaction in future between this research community and others. In particular there should be interaction with the Radio frequency and microwave communications research area community in terms of addressing the cross-disciplinary challenges that need to be overcome to enable the development of 5G networks.