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At the end of an extraordinary year, welcome to our December newsletter...

Despite the unprecedented circumstances of 2020, the TRANSNET Programme successfully continued its mission of understanding the technologies needed to design an intelligent optical network, capable of coping with our ever-increasing data demands.

As many of us continue to live our lives online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for fast, reliable and secure digital communication systems is more relevant than ever before. Read on to discover how our (record-breaking) research is helping to transform optical networks for the next generation.  

Cover photo: In July, TRANSNET members were excited to return to the lab following its closure months earlier due to Covid-19 restrictions. Pictured are PhD students, Zichuan Zhou and Callum Deakin, in the Optical Networks Group laboratory, practicing excellent social distancing. Big smiles under those facemasks too!

TRANSNET researchers return to the lab following national lockdown

The team also took part in virtual lab tours this year organised as part of the IPC and ECOC conferences. These special events involved equipment explanations, experimental demonstrations and interactive Q+A sessions.

A message from our Director

"We are immensely proud of what the TRANSNET Programme has been able to achieve this year despite the disruption to our home and working lives. Our team’s commitment and determination to reach the goals of the programme during such extraordinary circumstances is incredible.

Our labs were closed between March and July and have only been able to operate in a skeletal manner since the summer…Thank you to all our researchers, partners, collaborators and friends for their relentless support and dedication throughout this difficult year." 

- Professor Polina Bayvel, Principal Investigator, TRANSNET
10 PhDs passed in 2020
We are so happy to report that, despite its challenges, 10 student members of the TRANSNET Programme have successfully defended their PhD theses this year. 

Congratulations to all our 2020 graduating students!

We look back at this incredible achievement and find out what everyone is doing now.

Ten student members passed their PhD in 2020
Funding and fellowship news
Members of the TRANSNET Programme have been awarded more than £4 million in grants and fellowships this year. From modelling fibre propagation to designing date centres of the future, discover more about the cutting-edge research projects these awards will fund.

Exceptional funding success in 2020
Our resilient students 
Meanwhile, our current students explain how the coronavirus pandemic shaped PhD life for them this year. From staying motivated and coping with social distancing to pivoting research priorities and finding new ways of working, our students share their thoughts on a year like no other.

How PhD life has changed this year
Our EAB meeting goes virtual
Like a lot of events this year, the TRANSNET External Advisory Board (EAB) convened online due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

The meeting was the second time within the programme that board members have met to evaluate and advise on the progress and direction of the project so far.

TRANSNET holds first virtual external advisory board meeting

Selected TRANSNET publications

Synchronous subnanosecond clock and data recovery for optically switched data centres using clock phase caching
Kari A. Clark, Daniel Cletheroe, Thomas Gerard, Istvan Haller, Krzysztof Jozwik, Kai Shi, Benn Thomsen, Hugh Williams, Georgios Zervas, Hitesh Ballani, Polina Bayvel, Paolo Costa and Zhixin Liu
Nature Electronics

Large Deviation Analysis of Function Sensitivity in Random Deep Neural Networks
Bo Li and David Saad
Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical

Optical Fibre Capacity Optimisation via Continuous Bandwidth Amplification and Geometric Shaping
Lidia Galdino, Adrian Edwards, Wenting Yi, Eric Sillekens, Yuta Wakayama, Thomas Gerard, Wayne Sheldon Pelouch, Stuart Barnes, Takehiro Tsuritani, Robert I. Killey, Domanic Lavery and Polina Bayvel
IEEE Photonics Technology Letters

Amplifier Considerations in ROADM–free Space–Switched Nonlinear Optical Links
R.J. Vincent, D.J. Ives and Seb J. Savory
Optical Fiber Communication Conference

Combining nonlinear Fourier transform and neural network-based processing in optical communications
Oleksandr Kotlyar, Maryna Pankratova, Morteza Kamalian-Kopae, Anastasiia Vasylchenkova, Jaroslaw E. Prilepsky and Sergei K. Turitsyn
Optics Letters

Simplifying the Supervised Learning of Kerr Nonlinearity Compensation Algorithms by Data Augmentation
Vladislav Neskorniuk, Pedro J. Freire, Antonio Napoli, Bernard Spinnler, Wolfgang Schairer, Jaroslaw E. Prilepsky, Nelson Costa and Sergei Turitsyn
European Conference on Optical Communication Conference 

Intelligent design of optical networks: which topology features help maximise throughput in the nonlinear regime?
Polina Bayvel, Ruijie Luo Ruijie, Robin Matzner, Daniel Semrau and Georgios Zervas
European Conference on Optical Communication Conference 

Click here for a complete list of TRANSNET publications
In November, members of the TRANSNET programme participated in two campaigns to support Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, an annual initiative run by EngineeringUK to show young people the importance of engineering careers.

Supporting Tomorrow’s Engineers Week

TRANSNET in the media

From news outlets to professional organisations and magazines, our research and its impact is reaching wider audiences year on year. Please find some press highlights below. 

Researchers achieve fastest-ever internet speed that could download all of Netflix in one second
The Independent 

Crunch time: innovations in data centre technology
The Engineer

Team Achieves World Record Broadband Transmission
IEEE Explore Innovation Spotlight Article 

Take a look at our media page to see more.

Looking ahead to 2021

  • There will be two TRANSNET members on the IEEE Photonics Society Board of Governors
  • The TRANSNET Programme will reach its halfway point in 2021 – an excellent opportunity to review progress and consider priorities for the next three years 
  • We’re hiring! Keep an eye on our vacancies page for an update soon…
  • And of course, we look forward to safely catching up with all our colleagues, collaborators and friends in-person whenever we can

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