Bostjan Batagelj received his PhD from the University of Ljubljana in 2003 for work on optical-fiber non-linearity measurements by four-wave mixing. He is currently an assistant professor at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Electrical Engineering. His current research interests are in areas of next-generation optical access networks, optical-technology-based timing systems and microwave photonics. He has authored or co-authored over 250 technical and scientific publications and is named as an inventor on ten patents. He was a co-founder of two start-up companies in the field of microwave and optical technologies.

Key research challenges in optical communications

This invited talk assesses the state of the art and identifies the key challenges for future research in the field of optical communications.

It is expected that optical-communication systems with a standard, single-mode, optical fiber, which currently allows increasingly higher transmission capacities due to accelerated scientific research in the past few decades, will reach the point where the capacity of the optical link via a single optical fiber will touch the physical limit known as the ”fiber wall”. As a consequence, research efforts to develop future solutions are being encouraged.

This presentation provides an overview of the fields in which the future development of optical communications will see the most focus. In the field of optical devices and components, the developments are going in the direction of integrated optics and new optical fibers. In order to achieve the objectives, the new communication techniques comprise coherent communications, multi-dimensional modulation formats and multiplexing techniques, as well as the use of digital signal processing. Modern optical networks extend from the high-performance fiber optic connections in the backbone to broadband access in the user’s home, while in the future their architecture will enable an adaptability to wavelength, bandwidth and modulation formats.

The main goal of the research is to develop and build optical communication systems that will ensure the secure transfer of large amounts of data with the minimum power consumption using the simplest and most cost-effective equipment.