Welcome

UNLOC is a UK research programme focused on unlocking the capacity of optical communications. It is a £4.8 million five-year collaborative project between the Optical Networks Group at UCL, Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies at Aston University and multiple industry partners. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), our team's mission is to unlock the capacity of optical communication systems.

Research within UNLOC focuses on developing new theoretical and experimental approaches to increase the capacity of optical fibre transmission technologies, which support and transform our economy, science, education, healthcare, transport and almost every other aspect of modern life.

Combining techniques from information theory, coding, advanced modulation formats, digital signal processing and advanced photonics, we develop breakthrough techniques to ensure that the underlying communications infrastructure can continue to meet the growing demand for faster and more reliable global networks.

The Programme Grant UNLOC finished on 28 February 2018

We have spent the last 6 years unlocking the capacity of optical communications (and at least another year beforehand writing the proposal!).  I think it's been a very successful programme and we have made huge, huge progress. Not least - in the people who have worked on the programme and have gone on, all over the world to unlock aspects of optical systems and networks!  We have achieved great results, published exceptional papers, we have received prizes, grants, awards, accolades, fellowships - but most importantly - made great friendships and had a wonderful time!Hopefully we will do more together! Thank you to all the members of our advisory board who have helped to strengthen the programme and keep it focused.  The impact of UNLOC has been tremendous will continue through our new EPSRC programme grant TRANSNET on the transformation of optical networks through intelligent transceivers, unlocking bounds and capacities, and breaking new ground!We have spent the last 6 years unlocking the capacity of optical communications (and at least another year beforehand writing the proposal!).  I think it's been a very successful programme and we have made huge, huge progress. Not least - in the people who have worked on the programme and have gone on, all over the world to unlock aspects of optical systems and networks!  We have achieved great results, published exceptional papers, we have received prizes, grants, awards, accolades, fellowships - but most importantly - made great friendships and had a wonderful time!Hopefully we will do more together! Thank you to all the members of our advisory board who have helped to strengthen the programme and keep it focused.  The impact of UNLOC has been tremendous and will continue through our new EPSRC programme grant TRANSNET (http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/R035342/1) on transforming optical networks through intelligent transceivers, unlocking bounds and capacities, and breaking new ground!

Latest News

    UNLOC's External Advisory Board (EAB) is made up of leading national and international experts and provides critical evaluation and guidance to the project leadership. This ensures that the project outcomes are of a high quality and relevant to the EPSRC priorities. The members of the EAB are:

    Dr Alastair Glass - Tyndall National Institute

    Dr Alastair Glass - Tyndall National Institute

    Chairman and acting CEO of the Tyndall National Institute, Cork, Ireland

    Dr. Alastair Glass is the chair for UNLOC External Advisory Board. He has a distinguished career in scientific research & development and government service and an extensive background in photonics systems, devices, and materials, including 30 years in varying capacities with Bell Labs ‐ Lucent Technologies. As Vice President of Bell Labs Photonics, Dr. Glass led research organizations responsible for the development of next generation optical fiber, optoelectronic devices, passive components, and photonic systems. This work led to development of fiber‐optic transmission systems now installed worldwide, including the first wavelength division multiplexing systems which enabled a dramatic increase of internet capacity. Throughout his career, Dr Glass placed great emphasis on the innovation process and realizing commercial value from research. Dr. Glass has spent the last decade in Ireland and Ontario developing innovation agendas to drive economic growth of these jurisdictions. He is presently chairman of the Tyndall National Institute, Cork, Ireland and president of Transparent Solutions Inc, a scientific consulting firm.

    Prof Sir David Payne - University of Southampton

    Prof Sir David Payne - University of Southampton

    Director, Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton

    Professor Sir David Neil Payne CBE FRS FREng is a leading Professor at the University of Southampton and Director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre. A world class pioneer of technology, his work has had a great impact on telecommunications and laser technology over the last forty years. The vast transmission capacity of today’s internet results directly from the erbium-doped fibre amplifier (EDFA) invented by David and his team in the 1980s. His pioneering work in fibre fabrication in the 70s resulted in almost all of the special fibres in use today including fibre lasers which are currently undergoing rapid growth for application in manufacturing and defence. David has made numerous leading contributions to many diverse fields of photonics and is widely acknowledged as an inventor of key components. Currently, his main research interest is high-power fibre lasers. With US funding, he led the team that broke the kilowatt barrier for fibre laser output to international acclaim and now holds many other fibre laser performance records. An original member of the Highly Cited Researchers (USA) he is honoured as one of the most referenced, influential researchers in the world.

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    Dr Christoph Glingener - ADVA Optical Networking

    Dr Christoph Glingener - ADVA Optical Networking

    Chief Technology Officer (CTO), ADVA Optical Networking

    Dr. Christoph Glingener joined ADVA Optical Networking in 2006 and a year later he was appointed as a CTO. His focus is on streamlining ADVA Optical Networking’s product portfolio, defining the product strategy and building the Group’s standing as a global innovator in optical networking. Christoph also leads ADVA Optical Networking’s product management and advanced technology teams. Additionally, in January 2015, he took on responsibility for global operations, enabling ADVA Optical Networking to integrate research and development, new product introduction and global operations into a unified development operations team. Christoph’s activities at ADVA Optical Networking build on a long and successful industry career with experience gained in both academic and corporate roles. These include leading positions at Marconi Communications (now Ericsson) and Siemens Communications (now Coriant).

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    Dr Chris Nokes - BBC Research and Development

    Dr Chris Nokes - BBC Research and Development

    Principal Engineer, Distribution Core Technologies, BBC Research and Development

    Chris Nokes joined BBC Research & Development in 1985. He has worked on a wide variety of projects, but since the early 90s he has been working on digital terrestrial television, taking a leading role first on DVB-T and more recently DVB-T2. Chris was a key contributor to the DVB-T2 technical study group, and also the editor of the DVB-T2 specification, as well as leading the T2 work within BBC R&D, helping to ensure the UK's successful launch of terrestrial HDTV services.

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    Prof Magnus Karlsson - Chalmers University of Technology

    Prof Magnus Karlsson - Chalmers University of Technology

    Professor Photonics, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden

    Magnus Karlsson is professor in photonics, with focus on fiber optics and optical communications. His expertise is wave propagation in optical fibers, polariztion effects, nonlinearities and optical communications. Together with Prof. Peter Andrekson, he leads the fiber optics group at the Photonics Laboratory. In 2010 he co-founded the Fiber Optic communication Research CEnter (FORCE) at Chalmers. Besides teaching SSY085, "Wireless an Photonics System Engineering" he is Associate Editor for Optics Express, and member in the technical program committee for conferences such as ECOC and ACP.

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    Dr Michael Chertkov - Los Alamos National Laboratory

    Dr Michael Chertkov - Los Alamos National Laboratory

    Technical Staff Member, Theoretical Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA

    Dr. Chertkov's areas of interest include applied and theoretical problems in energy systems, hydrodynamics, statistical and mathematical physics, information theory and computer science. Dr. Chertkov received his Ph.D. in physics from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1996, and M.Sc. in physics from Novosibirsk State University in 1990. After his Ph.D., Dr. Chertkov spent three years at Princeton University as a R.H. Dicke Fellow in the Department of Physics. He joined Los Alamos National Lab in 1999, initially as a J.R. Oppenheimer Fellow in the Theoretical Division. He is now a technical staff member in the same division. Dr. Chertkov is an APS fellow. He has published more than 100 papers in these research areas.

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    Dr Matthew Scott - EPSRC

    Dr Matthew Scott - EPSRC

    Information & Communications Technologies Profile Manager, EPSRC, UK

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    Domanic Lavery

    Domaniç Lavery

    Dr Lavery's research at UCL focuses on mitigation of nonlinear interference in long-haul transmission over optical fibre, ultradense wavelength-division multiplexing for passive optical networks, coherent-enabled advanced modulation formats, and digital signal processing for optical communications. Within UNLOC, Dom is mainly involved in the second research theme by developing DSP for optical communications, and fourth research theme by assisting or conducting experimental investigation of theoretical techniques.

    domanic.lavery.09[at]ucl.ac.uk
    +44 (0)20 3108 4406
    Homepage
      In his spare time Dom likes to play the piano.


     

    Yaroslav Prylepskiy

    Yaroslav Prylepskiy is a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies. His main areas of research include (i) NFT-based optical transmission, methods, optimization, including optical formats and extentions of "eigenvalue communications", lumped and distributed amplification; periodic NFT method, (ii)soliton usage for telecommunications, soliton-noise interference, spectral efficiency for soliton-based transmission, (iii)numerical methods for fast NFT signal decomposition, and (iv) spectral efficiency and capacity bounds for the optical fibre links. Within UNLOC, Yaroslav is working on RT1 with current current activities focused on (i) evaluation of capacity limits for the soliton-based transmission, (ii) mutual information evaluation for the soliton-based transmission, (iii) generalisation of the NFT-based approach, nonlinear inverse synthesis, and (iv) numerical methods for fast NFT processing.

    y.prylepskiy1[at]aston.ac.uk
    +44 (0)12 1204 5311
    Homepage
      Yaroslav used to play piano and compose some relatively weird poetry (in Russian). The current Russian minister of Economics Alexey Ulyukaev mentioned him as one of his favourite Russian poets. He is also an NBA and LeBron James fan. Yaroslav likes the English Premier League but has recently ceased to support Chelsea.


     
    Mingming

    Mingming Tan

    Mingming's principal research interest lies in long-haul/unrepeatered coherent transmissions system optimisation using advanced Raman fibre laser based amplification techniques. Within UNLOC, his work focuses on RT4 and experimental investigation of quasi-lossless Raman transmission link using advanced Raman fibre laser (RFL) based amplification techniques, in order to improve the transmission performance and satisfy the link requirement simultaneously for different nonlinearity compensation techniques.

    tanm[at]aston.ac.uk
    +44 (0)12 1204 3512
    Homepage


     
    Maria Sokorina

    Mariia Sorokina

    Mariia Sokorina is a Research Fellow at the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies. Her main areas of research include Shannon capacity, fibre-optic communication and all-optical regeneration. She works closely with the UNLOC deputy director Prof. Sergei Turitsyn.

    sorokinm[at]aston.ac.uk
    +44 (0)12 1204 5311
    Homepage


     
    Tianhua Xu

    Tianhua Xu

    Tianhua Xu is a Senior Research Fellow in the Electronic & Electrical Engineering Department at UCL. His current research is focused on investigating nonlinear channel capacity and developing digital signal processing for mitigating nonlinearities in high speed optical communication systems. Within UNLOC, Tianhua is involved in the first and second research themes (RT1, RT2). Current activities include channel capacity estimation based on GN model, channel model investigation and verification, and digital signal processing based on nonlinear compensation.

    tianhua.xu[at]ucl.ac.uk
    +44 (0)20 3108 4406
    Homepage


     
    Lidia Galdino

    Lidia Galdino

    Lidia Galdino is a Research Fellow at the Electronic & Electrical Engineering Department in UCL. Within UNLOC, Lidia is working on maximising the capacity of optical fibre communication systems, focusing on numerical and experimental study of advanced modulation formats and their effectiveness in maximising spectral efficiency over long-distance transmission. Within UNLOC, Lidia is mainly involved in RT4 by developing and experimentally verifying point to point optical transmission systems. She is partly involved in simulation work conducted under RT2 as well.

    lgaldino[at]ee.ucl.ac.uk
    +44 (0)20 3108 4406
    Homepage
      In her spare time Lidia does serious rock climbing. 


     
    Sezer

    Sezer Erkilinç

    Sezer's research is focused on cost-effective digital signal processing (DSP) based optical transceiver architectures for access and metropolitan applications, including spectrally-efficient (high-order) modulation schemes in direct detection links and simplified coherent receiver designs for passive optical networks.

    mustafa.erkilinc.11[at]ucl.ac.uk
    +44 (0)20 7679 4464
    Homepage


     
    Christos Tsekrekos

    Christos Tsekrekos

    Christos P. Tsekrekos is a Research Fellow at the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies. His research experience includes multi-mode and single-mode fibre transmission systems, radio-over-fibre systems, passive optical networks, design of passive photonic components, and all-optical signal processing. Within the UNLOC project, Christos is primarily working on advanced transponders and modulation schemes.

    c.tsekrekos[at]aston.ac.uk
    +44 (0)12 1204 3512
    Homepage


     
    Atalla

    Atalla El-Taher

    Atalla is a Research Fellow at the Aston Institute of Photonic Technology. His main research interests lie in the Ultra-long Raman fibre lasers, random laser and advanced Raman fibre laser amplifiers. Within UNLOC, he is involved in Raman fibre laser based amplification technique making both discrete and distributed amplifiers with high gain and bandwidth in optical transmission experiments.

    eltaheae[at]aston.ac.uk
    +44 (0)12 1204 3512
    Homepage


     
    David Ives

    David Ives

    Dr Ives is a Research Associate in the Electrical Engineering Division at the University of Cambridge. His research interest is in network optimisation to maximise the data transported given the physical layer nonlinear transmission impairments. Within UNLOC, David is involved in defining network throughput and understanding the main network factors that influence throughput.

    di231[at]cam.ac.uk
    +44 (0)122 376 2433
    Homepage


    Alvarado

    Alex Alvarado

    Associated Research Fellow

    Dr Alvarado is a tenure-track Assistant Professor at the Signal Processing Systems (SPS) Group, Department of Electrical Engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in The Netherlands. During 2014-2016 he was a Senior Research Associate at the Optical Networks Group, University College London, United Kingdom. Within UNLOC, Alex was involved in the first and second research themes of the project.

    a.alvarado[at]tue.nl
    Homepage
    Watch Dr. Alvarado's lecture during the "Communication networks beyond the capacity crunch – further discussion" meeting at the Royal Society


     
    Robert Maher

    Robert Maher

    Associated Research Fellow

    Robert Maher is a senior Research Fellow in the Electronic & Electrical Engineering Department at UCL. His main research interests are fast switching tuneable lasers for use in agile optical networks and physical layer implementation of dynamically reconfigurable coherent optical networks that utilise advanced modulation formats. Witihn UNLOC, Robert conducts experimental work in the fourth research theme focused on implementation and system demonstration of the developed capacity-boosting techniques within the first three themes.

    r.maher[at]ucl.ac.uk
    Homepage
      Robert has recently taken a liking to golf. 


    Gabriele Liga

    Gabriele Liga

    Gabriele is interested in understanding optical fibre transmission bottlenecks and harnessing communication theory techniques to mitigate them. He focuses on detection theory, nonlinear equalization techniques, modulation, coding and modeling of the optical fibre channel. Within UNLOC, Gabriele is involved in RT1 (detection strategies tailored to the nonlinear fibre channel) and RT2 (practical performance limits of digital backpropagation).

    gabriele.liga.11[at]ucl.ac.uk
    +44 (0)20 3108 4406
    Homepage
      Gabriele is also food & wine connoisseur, and an amateur cook. He likes running and playing football as well as playing the drums.


     
    Daniel Elson

    Daniel Elson

    Daniel is interested in applying fundamental physics and laser modulation techniques to reach the nonlinear limit of channel capacity. He works on development of the next generation transmitters for optical fibre communication systems.

    daniel.elson.13[at]ucl.ac.uk
    +44 (0)20 7679 4462
    Homepage
      Daniel is an amateur photographer, using both analog and digital formats.


     
    Gabriel Saarvedra

    Gabriel Saavedra Mondaca

    Gabriel's research interests are: optical transmission, overcoming fibre transmission impairments, optical amplifiers and nonlinear noise mitigation techniques in order to increase system capacity. He is currently working on large bandwidth amplifiers and discrete Raman amplifiers.

    gabriel.mondaca.14[at]ucl.ac.uk
    +44 (0)20 3108 4406
    Homepage
     


     
    Nikita

    Nikita Shevchenko

    Nikita's main research interests lie in fundamental understanding and theoretical investigation of (i) information capacity bounds of the nonlinear optical fibre channels, (ii) solitons in optical communications, and (iii) optical transmission based on the nonlinear Fourier transform (NLFT). He is currently working within RT1 of UNLOC investigating:

    • validation of the GN-model for nonlinear channel capacity estimation
    • developing analytical bounds on capacity of the nonlinear optical fibre channel
    • detection strategies for the soliton-based coherent transmission system

    mykyta.shevchenko.13[at]ucl.ac.uk
    +44 (0)20 7679 3843
    Homepage
      Nikita's main hobbies are science fiction, music (both classical and art rock), and playing classical guitar.


     
    Muhammad

    Mohammad Al-Khateeb

    Mohammad's research focuses on optical fibre nonlinearity compensation and capacity extension techniques in long haul optical transmission systems. The research describes the potential and limitations of All-optical nonlinearity compensation techniques (Optical Phase Conjugation) and digital compensation techniques (signal processing). He is currently involved in RT1 and RT2 and working on: (i) validating and analysing noise evolution in nonlinearity compensated optical transmission systems, (ii) developing experimental setup for optical phase conjugators, and (iii) analysing multi-OPC systems and considerations when using such nonlinearity compensation technique.

    alkhamaz[at]aston.ac.uk
    +44 (0)12 1204 3616
    Homepage
      Mohammad is a beginner cartoonist who also enjoys long hiking trips.

     

     
    Sun

    Zhongyuan Sun

    Zhongyuan's principal research interest is in optical fibre gratings fabrication and their sensing and lasing applications.

    sunz5[at]aston.ac.uk
    +44 (0)12 1204 3616
     Homepage  


    Polina Bayvel

    Polina Bayvel

    Programme Director

    Polina Bayvel is a professor in optical communications and head of the Optical Networks Group at the Electronic & Electrical Engineering Department in UCL. In 2016, Prof. Bayvel was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. Prof. Bayvel's research focuses on theoretical and experimental investigation of high-speed (10-160 Gbit/s and beyond), multiwavelength, optically amplified telecommunications networks including: (i) optical network design, wavelength allocation and routing algorithms, (ii) study of high-speed transmission systems and impairments due to optical fibre nonlinearities and their mitigation, using a variety of techniques, including use of advanced modulation formats, electronic pre-distortion, coherent detection and digital signal processing, optical equalisation and regeneration, and new devices for optical network applications.

    p.bayvel[at]ucl.ac.uk
    +44 (0)20 7679 7921
    Homepage
    Watch Prof Bayvel's Clifford Paterson Lecture at the Royal Society


    Sergei Turitsyn

    Sergei Turitsyn

    Deputy Director

    Sergei Turitsyn is a Professor in Photonics, Electrical, Electronic and Power Engineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Science in Aston University. His main research interests lie in the field of nonlinear science, including soliton theory, self-focusing of light beams, discrete nonlinear systems, and nonlinear fibre optics. Recently, his focus has been on high-speed optical communications, nonlinear photonic devices, Raman-based technologies, and ultra-long fibre lasers.

    s.k.turitsyn[at]aston.ac.uk
    +44 (0)121 204 3538
    Homepage
    Watch Prof Turitsyn's Inagural Lecture


    Andrew Ellis

    Andrew Ellis

    Associate Co-Investigator

    andrew.ellis[at]aston.ac.uk
    +44 (0)121 204 3075
    Homepage
    Watch: Aston Scholars featuring Prof. Andrew Ellis


    steliossygletos

    STYLIANOS SYGLETOS

    ASSOCIATE CO-INVESTIGATOR

    Stylianos Sygletos is a research fellow at the Aston Institute for Photonic Technologies. Within UNLOC, he is involved in the second and fourth research themes of the project.

    s.sygletos[at]aston.ac.uk
    +44 (0)12 1204 3721
    Homepage


    Benn Thomsen

    Benn Thomsen

    Co-Investigator

    Benn Thomsen moved to Microsoft Research Lab - Cambridge in March 2017 after a successful 13 years as a lecturer and a member of the Optical Networks Group at the Electronic & Electrical Engineering Department in UCL. Benn's main areas of research include ultrashort pulse generation, complete characterization of optical pulses using spectrographic techniques, all-optical signal processing, dynamic optical network architectures, and physical layer subsystems for dynamic optical networks. Benn continues at UCL as an Honorary Reader.

    b.thomsen[at]ucl.ac.uk
    Homepage
    Watch Dr Thomsen's UCL Lecture: Scenario-based learning in Electronic and Electrical Engineering


    Robert Killey

    Robert Killey

    Co-Investigator

    Dr. Killey is a senior lecturer at the Electronic & Electrical Engineering Department in UCL. His main research interests are: (i) Modelling and experimental investigation of the effects of fibre nonlinearity on high bit-rate WDM data transmission, (ii) Applications of digital signal processing for transmission impairment mitigation in high capacity optical communication systems, (iii) Implementation of high speed digital signal processing for optical communications using field programmable gate arrays, and (iv) Analysis of wavelength routing in high-capacity optically amplified WDM networks. Robert is the leader of the second research theme within the UNLOC project focused on developing advanced techniques of coding, digital signal processing and nonlinearity management in coherent transmission to maximise spectral efficiency.

    r.killey[at]ucl.ac.uk
    +44 (0)20 7679 3979
    Homepage


    Paul Harper

    Paul Harper

    Co-investigator

    Paul Harper is a reader at the School of Engineering and Applied Science in Aston University. His main research interests include high speed optical communications and nonlinear optics. He teaches Foundations of Physics & Engineering, Digital Media Science, and Optical Communications Systems.

    p.harper[at]aston.ac.uk
    +44 (0)121 204 3525
    Homepage


    Philip Watts

    Philip Watts

    Co-investigator

    Philip Watts is a lecturer in the Electronic & Electrical Engineering Department in UCL. His current research involves investigating the performance and power consumption implications of integrated photonic interconnect for future large scale computer systems (such as data centres and high performance scientific computing) focusing on: (i) Performance modelling of computer systems with photonic networks using software simulation and FPGA-based full system emulation, (ii) Power modeling and experimental verification of integrated photonic components and electronic network elements, and (iii) Design of power optimised physical and data link layer protocols for photonic interconnect. Philip co-leads the third research theme in UNLOC with Benn Thomsen in investigating ways to maximise the capacity in the context of optical networks.

    philip.watts[at]ucl.ac.uk
    +44 (0)20 7679 2824
    Homepage


    Seb

    Seb Savory

    Co-investigator

    After more than a decade at UCL, Seb moved to Cambridge in January 2015. Seb's research interests include:

    • Digital signal processing and its application to optical communications
    • Optical transmission systems
    • Polarisation effects in fibres
    • Optical network topology
    Within UNLOC, Seb is currently involved in research on Raman amplification, RT3 (networking and energy consumption), RT2 (DSP and dealing with uncertainties) as well as elements of experimental verification within RT4.

    sjs1001[at]eng.cam.ac.uk
    Homepage


    Lin Zhang

    Lin Zhang

    Co-Investigator

    Lin Zhang is a Professor in the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Aston University. Her main research area is advanced fibre grating devices, technologies and applications. Together with Prof. Turitsyn, Lin leads the first research theme in UNLOC focused on the development of fundamental information theory for nonlinear channels in order to characterize Shannon capacity for nonlinear fibre channels.

    l.zhang[at]aston.ac.uk
    +44 (0)121 204 3548
    Homepage
    Watch Prof. Zhang's Inagural Lecture


    Zhixin Liu

    Zhixin Liu

    Co-Investigator

    Dr. Zhixin Liu is a lecturer and a member of the Optical Networks Group at the Electronic & Electrical Engineering Department in UCL. His research aims to investigate optical components and subsystems for enabling larger data transmission capacities with a simultaneous reduction in power consumption and system complexity. His research interests include: (i) Optical transmitters for short and medium reach optical communication systems; (ii) Optical transmission system based on microstructure fibres; (iii) Digital and analog signal processing for low latency and power-aware optical communications.

    zhixin.liu[at]ucl.ac.uk
    +44 (0)20 7679 3369
    Homepage


    Events

    Beyond state-of-the-art optical communications

    2 June 2017
    Full day symposium in partnership with Photonics Hyperhighway research programme

    Optical Fiber Communication Conference 2017

    19-23 March 2017, Los Angeles
    10 papers involving UNLOC members

    THE FUTURE OF DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS

    1 February 2017, 09:30–17:00
    Workshop at St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge 

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