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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - Advanced optical systems for terabit free-space communications (Huawei Technologies Sweden AB and University of Glasgow)

School of Engineering & Physical Sciences

Edinburgh United Kingdom Astrophysics Communications Engineering Optical Physics Physics

About the Project

Next generation mobile communications networks, such as 6G will revolutionise the way we interact with technology, enabling super high-speed connections to our mobile devices. However, this places incredible strain on the backhaul and access networks that support 5G and beyond. Optical connections are the only viable solution for handling the terabits of data that will be generated by mobile users. Working with the world leading supplier in mobile access technology, this project will develop novel optical systems for supporting ultra-high capacity optical linkages over cable free inter mobile cell connections.

In this project, the student will develop novel and efficient optical multiplexing techniques for a form of space division multiplexing called orbital angular momentum (OAM) multiplexing. This form of information encoding is enabled by spatially varying the intensity and phase of laser beams so that they twist as they propagate. This twisting of light has the potential to massively increase the capacity of communication systems. In the development of these demultiplexers, the student will create new passive optical components based on transformation optical designs, that can demultiplex information encoded in OAM with ultralow channel crosstalk. Free-form, metamaterial and diffractive optical systems will be explored. These bespoke elements will be designed to be compatible with wavelength division multiplexing and will be integrated with bespoke adaptive optical solutions for mitigating atmospheric turbulence based on commercial deformable mirror technology. Supported by post-doctoral researchers these novel systems will be manufactured and tested in real-world communication systems.

These technologies will have direct application within the research field of optical communications, but will also provide new optical systems that could be used within remote sensing and imaging systems that operate over long-distances. Previously demultiplexers, developed by Dr Lavery, have been widely used globally by world-leading research groups in quantum optics, astronomy, environmental sensing, and optical metrology, where these advanced systems will be fully transferable into these research fields. The student will collaborate with fellow researchers in the Structure Photonics Research group to transition their systems for use in optical sensing and metrology experiments. Further, environment sensing using spatially shaped light has become a recent hot topic, where the advances made within this PhD project will have a considerable impact on this emerging field.

Essential Criteria

A degree in Physics, Optical Engineering, Electronic Engineering or Communication Engineering.

Have completed university level course in Optics, Communications or Electro Magnetism.

Desirable Criteria

Experience with computer modelling or programming.

Experience with experimental Optical setups.

Working Environment

This project will be conducted largely with the Structured Photonics Research Group, within the James Watt School of Engineering at the University of Glasgow. This dynamic research group brings together Physicist and Engineers to develop novel solutions to industry inspired challenges in communication and sensing.

We will be supported by Huawei Sweden, who will offer access to carrier grade hardware and be a critical stakeholder in project developments. Some short visits to Sweden will be conducted to complete some testing of developed optical systems.


The CDT in Applied Photonics provides a supportive, collaborative environment which values inclusivity and is committed to creating and sustaining a positive and supportive environment for all our applicants, students, and staff. For further information, please see our ED&I statement Forming a supportive cohort is an important part of the programme and our students take part in various professional skills workshops, including Responsible Research and Innovation workshops and attend Outreach Training.

Funding Notes

Funding for this position may vary depending on the nationality/status of the applicant.

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