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PhD Studentship: Efficient Algorithms for Optical Communications

(UK or Home students only)

A fully-funded PhD studentship, for research on algorithms and digital signal processing (DSP) for optical communication, is available in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at University College London (UCL). The project will develop and test efficient algorithms for optical fibre channel analysis and impairment mitigation.

Background:  Optical fibres are used for more than 99% of all inter-continental digital communications, which enable the Internet. The last decade saw a dramatic increase in the data rates transmitted over optical fibres, driven by the demand for video content, 4G connectivity, social media, and the related inter-data centre communications. Recent demonstrations transmitting more than 100 Tbit/s over a single optical fibre mode have been achieved by combining coherent detection with digital signal processing (DSP) to overcome transmission impairments.

Going beyond this remarkable achievement will require further advances in DSP to overcome the linear and nonlinear signal distortions imposed by the fibre optic communication channel. The DSP design must be informed by the physical channel; however, this channel is challenging to analyse - both analytically and numerically.

The research in this project principally aims to understand the extent to which digital coherent transmission systems can be simplified, in terms of optical and digital requirements, whilst achieving ever-higher data rates; although it is anticipated that the techniques developed will have applications beyond optical communications.

Based within UCL’s Optical Networks Group (ONG), the state-of-the-art laboratory facilities include a recirculating loop test-bed, twelve 92 GSample/s, 8-bit, digital-to-analogue converters, several ultra-wide bandwidth coherent receivers and real-time, digital oscilloscopes, state-of-the-art optical fibres, and access to a dark fibre, inter-university network (NDFIS). The ONG recently demonstrated the world’s first 1 Tbit/s receiver using this testbed, during the ‘UNLOC’ project (see links, below).

The research will include a mix of theoretical and experimental work, and so skills in, and enthusiasm for, one or more of the following areas is desirable:

  • Scientific computer programming
  • Digital signal processing/Algorithm design
  • Laboratory-based research


For more information, please visit:
1 Tbit/s result in the media: Telegraph Daily Mail


PhD Studentship:  The studentship is funded by the EPSRC through the Doctoral Training Partnership and is available for 4 years, with a start date between September and December 2017. The award includes tuition fees (UK/Home only) and a tax-free stipend which is currently £16,785 per annum (or pro rata if taken part-time) which can be topped up to £20,000 per annum, depending on experience. Candidates holding, or expecting to receive, a first class or 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent), in Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science, or a related scientific discipline are encouraged to apply.

UCL is committed to equality and values diversity, and selection for this programme of study will be based on merit. However, please note that, due to funding restrictions, only UK and Home students (residents in the UK) are eligible for this studentship.

To apply, please send a CV, a cover letter and contact details of at least two referees to Dr. Domaniç Lavery ( quoting “EPSRC PhD studentship – Optical/Lavery” in the email subject line.

Informal queries can also be sent to Dr. Lavery at the same email address and with the same subject line.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the 30th September 2017, and the position will be advertised until it is filled.