Photonics and Optical Networks

Optical Networks refers to the telecommunications networking infrastructure where transmission of information carrying signals between nodes are realized via optical transmission links. With the explosive growth in the internet-traffic over the last decade, the most of today's telecommunications infrastructure other than that of wireless communications had been built using network nodes with optical fibre communications links interconnections. Currently most of nodes in the network will generate electronic information carrying signals before being converted to optical signals using photonic technologies and then the optical communication links help to transmit those signals to other nodes in the network. The most of information processing is currently done in the electronics domain and thus transmission signals need to be detected and converted to the electrical domain for processing.

With the maturity of photonic technologies, a number of switching, adding and dropping of communication channels and limited regeneration can be realized within the optical domain. With the data-rate rising above 10 Gigabits per second, if signals can be processed within the optical domain and thus avoiding electronic processing platforms may offer the advantage of simpler networking architectures that can scale well in the future. Such optical networking architectures need to provision optical transmission, switch and route channels, detect failure and take corrective actions when required. Such functions require significant network intelligence in the optical domain and the ability to manage those networks in a cost-effective manner. With the convergence of internet protocol as the dominant transport protocol, network transmission, control and management can be simplified if a unified and integrated approach is adopted.

In addition to networks with high capacities, photonic technologies are being developed to realize customer access networks that offer broadband services and unlimited scalability through the implementation of cost-effective passive optical networks. These networks combine passive optical transmission infrastructure with end-to-end electronic interfaces to provide a broadband connection to the end user.

Key Research Challenges

A key challenge for the optical networking research is to develop integrated approaches that combines simpler network management platforms as well as simpler system architectures to realize greatly improved high capacity networks optimized for internet traffic. In addition great deal of effort has been focused on the development of scaleable optical access networks that can provide an infrastructure today with a guaranteed path for future upgrades.

Specific projects may include:

  • Optical networking architectures
  • Optical packet switching architectures
  • Modelling and optimization of optical networks
  • Control and Management of optical networks
  • Optical access networks

Australian Photonics Researchers

Dissanayake, Tharaka Nuwan Weerabaddana
Dower, Peter M
Farrell, Peter
Hinton, Kerry
Karmakar, Nemai
Lowery, Arthur James
Nadarajah, Nishaanthan
Nirmalathas, Thas A
Novak, Dalma
Rakic, Aleksandar D.
Shen, Gangxiang
Stirling, David
Tucker, Rodney Stuart
Yi, Xiaoke

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