The internationally-acclaimed Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT) – part of Aston University – has joined the European Union MODE-GAP project, which is looking to develop the disruptive technologies and concepts the world needs in order to prevent a capacity crunch in the global communications infrastructure.
The AIPT is an internationally recognised research centre in the field of fibre optics, high-speed optical communications and nonlinear photonic technologies. Its 50-strong team of researchers has been added to a Europe-wide group of leading companies and universities, which are working towards developing a new network with at least 100 times the capacity of today’s systems. The explosion of mobile networks and smart, remote devices such as smart phones, tablets, plus increasing use of video, is already causing potential bottlenecks in networks and there are fears that in another ten years the communications network may crash unless radical new solutions can be found.
Professor Andrew Ellis, of Aston University, will lead the AIPT’s involvement in MODE-GAP and will help the project benefit from the extensive knowledge and expertise accumulated by the research centre over many years.
Professor Ellis says: “AIPT has one of the strongest theoretical and computer-modelling activities in advanced optical communications techniques in the world. Aston will be able to accurately estimate the likely performance advantages of the various strategies within MODE GAP which is essential to establish that a significant net benefit over conventional systems may be achieved.”
MODE-GAP project leader Dr Ian Giles adds: “Professor Ellis is internationally recognised for his contributions in the fields of nonlinearity in optical communications, and for highlighting the impending capacity crunch. We have already made significant progress, including showing a world leading result for multi-channel transmission, but this project is critical to people all over the world and we can only be strengthened in our work by the addition of the AIPT to our team.”
Key organisations comprising MODE-GAP include the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre, ESPCI ParisTech, OFS Fitel Denmark APS, Phoenix Photonics, the COBRA Institute at Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Eblana Photonics Ltd, Nokia Siemens Networks GMBH & Co. KG and the Tyndall National Institute of University College Cork. Half-way through a four year programme, MODE-GAP’s mission is to develop transmission technologies based on specialist long-haul transmission fibres, and associated enabling technologies. These include novel rare-earth doped optical amplifiers, transmitter and receiver components and data processing techniques to increase the capacity of broadband networks.
MODE-GAP is a key project seeking to provide Europe with a lead in the development of the next generation internet infrastructure to address the potential capacity crunch, as traffic on the world’s optical networks continues to increase dramatically. Combining the expertise of eight world-leading photonics partners, the project is developing transmission technologies based on specialist long-haul transmission fibres, and associated enabling technologies. These include novel rare-earth doped optical amplifiers, transmitter and receiver components and data processing techniques to increase the capacity of broadband networks.
Notes to Editors
What is the MODE-GAP project and what is it aiming to achieve?
MODE-GAP is a project funded under the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme that aims to provide Europe with a lead in the development of the next generation internet infrastructure. The project is investigating a possible solution to the capacity crunch by using multimode fibres to increase the transmission capacity.
Specifically MODE-GAP is focussed on Few Mode Fibre. Each mode or group of modes creates a single channel along the fibre, in principle each of these channels has a similar capacity to a single mode fibre. MODE-GAP is looking to achieve multi-channel (12) transmission along a single fibre using Mode Division Multiplexing. Development of such a system requires a completely new component set including, mode control components, mux/demux, amplifiers, fibres, etc, together with signal processing techniques based on Multi-Input Multi-Output used for radio transmission. The MODE-GAP project is addressing all aspects of the system requirements.
The project also has two challenging and novel aspects. The first is the use of Photonics Band-Gap Fibre (PBGF), or hollow core fibre, which provides an improvement in non-linearity threshold allowing more power to be transmitted. The second is to investigate a completely new transmission window in the 2 micron region, where PBGF has lowest insertion loss and there are massive optical bandwidth opportunities to be exploited.
Why is it so important?
There is a fundamental limit to the amount of information that can be transmitted along a single mode fibre and at the current rate of increased demand for bandwidth, approximately 40% increase per-annum, the limit will potentially be reached within the next 10 years. Alternative solutions need to be investigated now, before network limits are reached. By using Spatial Division Multiplexing (which includes: Multi-fibre, Multi-core and Multi-mode) the project has the potential to increase the capacity whilst utilising high level modulation techniques including, Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing and Polarization Multiplexing.
What has the project achieved so far?
MODE-GAP has already achieved the world leading result for multi-channel transmission, the first multimode amplifiers have been shown and utilised, and the first 2um Wavelength Division Multiplexing system and PBGF multimode transmission has been shown. The project has made excellent progress, but not without challenging issues along the way, each has been resolved by the team of partners in all areas of the system design and realisation.
Who is involved in the project?
Key organisations comprising MODE-GAP include the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre, the University of Aston’s Institute of Photonic Technologies, ESPCI ParisTech, OFS Fitel Denmark APS, Phoenix Photonics, the COBRA Institute at Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Eblana Photonics Ltd, Nokia Siemens Networks GMBH & Co. KG and the Tyndall National Institute of University College Cork.