Photonics is the application of light (which is quantized into photons - packets of light) to solving scientific and engineering problems. In ECSE, we are using photonics to increase the capacity of optical fibre communications systems and in biomedical applications, such as non-invasive blood monitoring.
In collaboration with the Wireless group, we recently developed Optical-OFDM, a method of upgrading existing communications systems without changing the optical fiber. OFDM stands for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing, and divides a very-high-speed data channel into hundreds of lower data rate channels, which are slow enough not to be affected by the properties of the optical fiber. This technology is now being commercialized by Ofidium.com, and a second-generation of optical OFDM is being developed under a new round of government research grants.
We are also working with local and international companies to develop optical communications systems suitable for the Australian market – which has suddenly become a lot bigger with the announcement of the $42B National Broadband Network.
Our bio-photonics work involves sophisticated modeling of body tissue, and an international collaboration with UC-LA developing silicon photonic devices.
Our facilities for high-sped communications are world class and include 20 GSample/s waveform generators and 50 GSample/s real-time oscilloscopes and 40 Gbit/s data generators These facilities allow us to trial signal processing algorithms, such as for OFDM and Electronic Dispersion Compensation, over 1400-km of real optical fiber or a 600-km commercial WDM system.