Symposium on 50 Years of Fibre Optics
Francesco Poletti, University of Southhampton, UK
Tommy Geisler, OFS, Denmark
19.09.2022, 13:30 – 17:30
With a multi-billion kilometre global network enabling the Internet, the social media and the remote working revolutions, and a worldwide production rate exceeding the speed of sound, optical fibres are undoubtedly one of the technological wonders of the last 50 years.
The economic impact of modern telecoms-grade optical fibres and their improved optical performance have been driven by the pioneering vision and inventiveness of leading fibre optics researchers.
In this symposium, we will go back in time with some of the protagonists of this 50-year long revolution and we will hear their own recollection of the challenges they faced and the critical inventive steps they took to lay the foundations of present and future optical communications.
This will provide an opportunity for the community to reflect upon the journey so far, use past lessons to overcome present day challenges, and inspire younger generations of researchers to keep thinking creatively despite adversities.
Session 1 (105 min)
13:45: Ups and Downs on the Path to Making the First Practical Low Loss Glass Fibers for Optical Communications, Peter Schultz, former Corning Research Manager, USA
14:15: Invention of VAD and the early efforts in Japan to reduce loss levels, Tatsuo Izawa, former President of NTT Electronics, Japan
14:45: The Discovery of the Optical Fibre Amplifier, David Payne, University of Southampton, UK
Coffee break (30 min)
Session 2 (105 min)
15:45: Ultra-low loss optical fibre and ultra-high fibre count optical cable, Hiroo Kanamori, former Sumitomo Research Manager, Japan
16:15: New Technologies and Bold Decisions, Peter Cochrane, former BT CTO, UK
16:45: Three decades of photonic crystal fibres, Philip Russell, Emeritus Founding Director, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Germany
Speaker 1: Peter Schultz, former Corning Research Manager, USA
Title: Ups and Downs on the Path to Making the First Practical Low Loss Glass Fibers for Optical Communications
Abstract: In 1967, two physicists (Bob Maurer and Don Keck) and a glass chemist (Peter Schultz) teamed up at Corning to try to fabricate a single mode optical fiber having a loss of 20 dB/km or less (a seemingly impossible goal at the time). Three years later they reached 17 dB/km and in 1972, announced making a fiber with a loss of only 4 dB/km. Fifty years later, nearly all the 4+ billion kilometers of communication fiber deployed in the world are still based on the basic processes and glasses they developed. This talk will focus on the key technical effort between 1967 and 1972 to achieve these results and describe some of the important successes and failures along the way.
Speaker 2: Tatsuo Izawa, former President of NTT Electronics, Japan
Title: Invention of VAD and the early efforts in Japan to reduce loss levels
Abstract: Since around 1970, research on optical fiber communication has been strongly promoted by many researchers in Japan. Excellent achievements in research on low-loss optical fibers, semiconductor lasers, optical components, and communication systems were made.
In this talk, I will present how the efforts were made to develop optical fiber mass production technology and to reduce loss levels. Since the manufacturing method and the composition of the low-loss optical fiber developed by Corning researchers were not disclosed at the beginning, the research on the glass composition and manufacturing method was widely conducted in Japan as well. The fibers made by MCVD method, developed by researchers at Bell Labs, was widely used in communication system research because it was able to produce low-loss fibers with good reproducibility. The MCVD method was difficult to make a large preform, and the OVD method was not a manufacturing method with good reproducibility, so the efforts to develop new manufacturing methods to make a large size preform was advanced. Finally, the VAD method was developed through the efforts. In addition, the development of silica glass planar light-wave circuit technology, which was an essential technology for making AWGs for DWDM systems and splitters for FTTH, will be briefly presented.
Biography: Tatsuo Izawa was born in 1941, received a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Electronics Engineering from the University of Tokyo in 1965, 1967, and 1970, respectively. He joined the Research Laboratories of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) in 1970 as a research scientist and worked there for 28 years. During this time, he made pioneering contributions in low-loss optical fiber fabrication and planar light-wave circuits. He is a co-inventor of Vapor-phase Axial Deposition (VAD) process for making large-size optical fiber performs. He also invented an ion electro-migration method for making planar optical waveguides. He also performed early-stage development of silica glass planar light-wave circuits (PLC). He was appointed the President of NTT Electronics (NEL) in 1998. Since then, he has focused his management activities on the development and manufacturing of photonic devices and electronic devices for DWDM networks including DFB lasers, Modulators, Detectors, AWGs, Optical Switches and GaAs ICs. After he retired NEL, he was appointed an Executive Vice President of Tokyo Institute of Technology in 2007 and the President of Chitose Institute of Science and Technology in 2013. Now, he is an Executive Adviser of Chitose Institute of Science and Technology.
Speaker 3: David Payne, University of Southampton, UK
Title: The Discovery of the Optical Fibre Amplifier
Abstract: In the early 80’s, the strategy of using multiple carriers (i.e. wavelengths), referred to as wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) emerged as a means of utilising the full low-loss window of silica fibres. This made it possible to dramatically increase the capacity by transmitting many signal channels on separate wavelengths in the same optical fibre. Unfortunately, this idea was incompatible with existing repeater technology that utilised electrical amplifiers. Channels would need to be split and each channel individually electrically amplified before being re-injected into the fibre, a costly and complex solution. A number of teams across the world began work on optical amplifiers that would be able to amplify simultaneously each of the wavelength channels, the two most promising competitors being the semiconductor laser diode amplifier, and Raman amplification. In 1985, a team at the University of Southampton began publishing on rare-earth-doped silica fibres for laser applications and quickly established that all the usual rare-earth ions laser ions could be incorporated into silica at the required low dopant concentration without significantly increasing the background loss. It was not until OFC in January 1987 that the first publication emerged of an erbium-doped fibre in an amplifier configuration. In 1986, Bell Laboratories had also noted the possibility of a rare-earth amplifier and had established a team led by Emmanuel Desurvire working on a very similar topic. However, it remained to develop a practical, efficient, and miniature pump source. Luckily, the same InGaAsP technology used in laser diodes for telecommunications sources could be used for EDFA pumping, as demonstrated in 1989 by an NTT team under Masataka Nakazawa. Today the EDFA is ubiquitous – a complete solution to the problem of optical amplification within the fibre itself.
Biography: Prof D. N. Payne is a research pioneer in photonics, having been in the field for over 45 years. Payne’s contributions are acknowledged as seminal in many areas of optical telecommunications, one of the greatest scientific successes of the last three decades. His work spans many other areas of photonics, from optical sensors to nanophotonics and optical materials. He has made several of the key technical achievements in almost every area of optical fibre technologies and his work has had a direct impact on telecommunications, as well as nearly all fields of optical R&D. Payne’s pioneering work in fibre fabrication in the 70’s resulted in almost all of the special fibres in use today. He led the team that in 1985 first announced the silica fibre laser and the Erbium-Doped Optical Amplifier (EDFA), the device that fuelled an explosive growth in the internet through its ability to transmit and amplify vast amounts of data. The EDFA is widely regarded as being one of the foremost and most significant developments in modern telecommunications. The fibre laser is now also undergoing rapid growth for application in manufacturing and defence. Payne led the team that to international acclaim broke the kilowatt barrier for fibre laser output. Unusually, David combines world-leading science with commercial activities and has been the driving force behind a several spinout companies, creating wealth and employment in the surrounding area. He has been awarded the top American, European and Japanese prizes in photonics. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Russian and the Norwegian Academy of Sciences, the IET, the Optical Society of America and SPIE. He is also a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy and the Indian Academy of Engineering.
Speaker 4: Hiroo Kanamori, former Sumitomo Research Manager, Japan
Title: Ultra-low loss optical fibre and ultra-high fibre count optical cable
Abstract: Symbolic examples of optical fibre and cable technologies that have contributed to the evolution of optical communication networks are introduced. First one is a pure-silica core optical fibre. In the mid-1980s, Sumitomo Electric demonstrated pure silica core optical fibres with record-low loss. After then, the loss of 0.17 dB/km range became commercially available. In the 2010s, the fibre came back into the limelight with the progress of digital coherent technology in long haul submarine systems. During this period, the loss reduction technology has been studied and steadily developed, leading to record-low-loss of 0.142 dB/km, and 0.15 dB/km or less can be realized even for mass-produced fibres. Second one is ultra-high fibre count cables. Technologies for installing and handling huge amount of optical fibres had been developed in Japan aiming FTTH systems since the 1990s. As the result of the accumulation of various technologies, an ultra-high fibre count cable accommodating as much as 6912 fibres was born using pliable ribbon fibres and now deployed as an indispensable technology for data centres.
Biography: Hiroo Kanamori received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in Physics from Tokyo Institute of technology, Japan, in 1979 and 1981, respectively. In 1981, he joined Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd., and had been engaged in research and development of optical fiber fabrication process, various kinds optical fibers, and passive optical components. He was also in charge of design and manufacturing of optical components and modules in business sector of Sumitomo Electric. He had been a senior specialist in Sumitomo Electric. After retired Sumitomo Electric in April 2022, he is supporting coaxial wire business in Sumitomo as a parttime employee of Sumitomo Electronic Wire, Inc.
Speaker 5: Peter Cochrane, former BT CTO, UK
Title: New Technologies and Bold Decisions
Abstract: By 1979 sufficient lab and field work had been completed for the planning of the first national scale terrestrial fibre optic networks. So the decision to go fibre optic on the transatlantic route came as a very bold decision, especially with the inclusion of cable splitters for the UK - France legs. Early in 1980 a consortium was established between BT, France Telecom and ATT, to bring together the necessary expertise. The initial target was to install and start testing in 1986. Now, at the time we had no lasers, PINs, SAWs, Chips, Fibre, Cable or repeater housings. But a monumental effort saw TAT-8 laid in 1966 and fully loaded with traffic by 1988. For me, this one project epitomises the spirit of the time when one project after another defied seemingly insurmountable obstacles to not only change the telecom industry, but to create new industries and enable the digital revolution. Today, that spirit and force pervades the tech sector, and it has transformed societies, and our civilisation. New technologies, brave decisions, and bold realisations of the previously impossible has now became the norm!
Biography: A seasoned professional with decades of hands on R&D and management experience. Peter retired from BT as CTO in 2000 to form his own consultancy. This saw the founding of eBookers, Shazam Entertainment, and a raft of smaller start ups. Peter has also seen assignments with UK, Singapore, and Qatar government; Motorola, 3M, Dupont, Ford, Sun, Rolls Royce, BMW, Jersey Tel, Chorus, FaceBook, et al. In 2017 Peter was appointed Prof of Sentient Systems to the University of Suffolk, and a visiting Prof to The Universities of Hertfordshire, Nottingham Trent and Salford. His numerous awards include the IEEE Millennium Medal, Martlesham Medal, Prince Philip Medal, Queens Award for Export and Technology, and an OBE.
Speaker 6: Philip Russell, Emeritus Founding Director, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Germany
Title: Three decades of photonic crystal fibres
Abstract: Photonic crystal fibres (PCFs)—thin strands of glass with an intricate array of hollow channels running along their length, offering both hollow and solid glass cores, and allowing unprecedented control over dispersion, birefringence and nonlinearity—have ushered in a new era of linear and nonlinear fibre optics. Gas-filled hollow-core PCFs can be designed to guide light over an extremely wide frequency range and through pressure-adjustable dispersion provide a simple means of compressing pulses to single-cycle durations, as well as underpinning a range of unique sources of tunable deep and vacuum ultraviolet light. Chirally twisted PCF is circularly and topologically birefringent, supporting optical vortices and in some cases strong circular dichroism. Microparticles optically trapped inside hollow core PCF can used to sense physical quantities with high spatial resolution, and strong optoacoustic effects in solid-core PCF permit generation of timing-modulated pulse sequences at few-GHz repetition rates. Recent breakthroughs in hollow-core "single-ring" PCF designs, reporting losses even lower than the best conventional fibres, suggest new opportunities in long-haul telecommunications.
Biography: Philip Russell is an emeritus founding director at the Max-Planck Institute for the Science of Light (MPL) in Erlangen, Germany, and director of the new RCALS Centre for Advanced Lightwave Science in Hangzhou, China. He obtained his D.Phil. degree in 1979 at the University of Oxford. His interests currently focus on scientific and technical applications of photonic crystal fibres. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and Optica (formerly The Optical Society, OSA) and has won a number of awards including the 2000 OSA Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize, the 2005 Thomas Young Prize of IOP, the 2005 Körber Prize for European Science, the 2013 EPS Prize for Research into the Science of Light, the 2014 Berthold Leibinger Zukunftspreis, the 2015 IEEE Photonics Award and the 2018 Rank Prize for Optoelectronics. He was OSA's President in 2015, the International Year of Light.