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SPIE Professional April 2012, Bonus Web Content

EURO-FOS: Pan European Photonics Network

FP7 project addresses research challenges at the interface between network-level research and device-level physics

By A. Maziotis et al.

image of EURO-FOS network of researchers

EURO-FOS is a collaborative research project, funded by the 7th Framework Programme for Research (FP7), Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), of the European Commission through the Network of Excellence platform. Taking part of its name from a Greek word for light, fos, EURO-FOS was coordinated by Hercules Avramopoulos at the Institute of Communications and Computer Systems of the National Technical University of Athens and funded from May 2008 through April 2012.

The project has created a powerful pan-European network on photonic subsystems by clustering 17 top European academic systems groups from 12 countries with proven track records in the design, development, and evaluation of photonic subsystems.

EURO-FOS focuses on complementing European Commission efforts for turning scientific know‐how developed in universities into exploitable technology by collaborating with members of industry on high-speed optical transmission systems, optical sources and amplification systems, optical network subsystems, and next-generation optical access subsystems.

Since photonics research and development requires a complex set of expertise (from technology to networking) as well as very expensive equipment, subsystems, and devices, EURO-FOS created a virtual lab environment based on facilities already existing among the project partners. The academic Pan‐European Laboratory was created with strong industrial links.

This mechanism strengthened European research in photonics, enabling shared access to expensive infrastructure and devices developed in complementary European projects.

Pan-European Lab in photonics

The Pan-European Laboratory pooled all relevant resources available in academia throughout Europe to form a virtual photonics lab. More than 800 resources were registered, including test and measurement equipment; photonic, electronic, and optoelectronic components; subsystems, complete systems, and testbeds; deployed fiber links; and software platforms. Web-based tools (equipment inventory, joint experimental activity planner, and scheduler) enable the functional role of the Pan‐European Lab in planning, scheduling, and reporting on the activities of the project participants.

After three years of operation, more than 50 joint experimental activities were set up through the virtual photonics lab website, and more than 60 young researchers visited the physical facilities where numerous individual experiments took place.

Collaboration with optics and photonics industry

The EURO‐FOS network has the support of 29 industrial partners. These affiliates closely monitor and collaborate with the network members on development, functionality, testing, etc.

The Industrial Advisory Board consists of six representatives from the industrial affiliates and has enabled the acquisition of feedback on the research lines of EURO‐FOS. Through the collaboration with industrial partners, members of the network published 66 joint works with the photonics industry in conferences and journals. The industrial representatives on the board were from:

  • ADVA Optical Networking
  • Alcatel Lucent Germany
  • Finisar
  • Nokia Siemens Networks
  • Tellabs
  • VPI Systems
Activities across Europe and beyond

EURO‐FOS Network of Excellence is an open platform in the sense that joint activities are actively spread worldwide. External academic or industrial research groups collaborate with EURO‐FOS members and perform joint experimental activities, exploiting the management mechanisms developed within the project.

Collaborations with U.S., Australian, Chinese, and Japanese groups have occurred during the project, resulting in the organization, co‐organization, or support of four workshops and symposia with researchers and experts from Europe, the United States, and Japan who exchanged views on relevant topics of interest.

Centres of excellence in photonics

The project has been organized in four Centres of Excellence (CEs), as described below, each one representing a broad research field and comprising specific research topics that are dynamically modified during the course of the project according to the evolution of the research activities and the emerging trends in photonics technology. Exploiting those joint activities under the umbrella of EURO-FOS, more than 400 scientific publications and 10 patents have been realized.

Digital optical transmission systems 

This first centre of excellence (CE1) is dedicated to digital optical transmission systems. Research activities encompass the investigation, design, and experimental evaluation of new photonic subsystems that enable higher capacities, longer reach, better transmission performance, and higher bandwidth efficiency.

These are key issues for enabling multi-terabit capacity transmission systems.

Highlights of the activities include the development of a tunable self‐coherent receiver for polarization multiplexed differential quadrature phase-shift keying (PM‐DQPSK) signals1and the implementation of optical subsystems for gridless/elastic networking environment2.

Optical amplification systems 

The centre of excellence for optical sources and amplification systems (CE2) is devoted to research on efficient amplification systems and on the implementation and performance evaluation of cost‐effective, small-footprint, and low-power-consumption optical source subsystems, capable of playing a vital role in future optical communications systems.

Latest achievements of this centre's activities include the investigation of remotely pumped amplification schemes suitable for amplification in C+L band and application in extended-reach passive optical network (PON) architectures3, and the development of a method for remote amplification in fully‐passive signal distribution nodes4.

High-speed optical subsystems

The third centre of excellence (CE3) focuses on high‐speed, high‐performance photonic sub‐systems found in transmission and switching systems.

Partners participating in CE3 of the project managed to develop a software‐defined transmitter5 and to show the full functionality of an integrated circuit for regeneration/ wavelength‐conversion of on/off keying (OOK), differential phase-shift keying (DPSK), and DQPSK signals6.

Next-generation optical access networks 

Next-generation optical access subsystems are the focus of the fourth centre of excellence (CE4).

CE4 concentrates its efforts on next-generation optical access networks. More specifically, it studies novel components and subsystems for the development of three network types: PONs, radio‐over‐fiber networks (RoFs), and fixed‐hybrid networks.

Highlights of CE4 activities concern the demonstration of a converged, fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) wireless network employing orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) modulation both in the wireless and the wired link7and full‐duplex 10 Gb/s transmission with the simple amplitude-shift keying (ASK) or ASK-modulation format for wavelength division multiplexing passive optical network (WDM‐PON) configuration8.

EURO-FOS outreach activities in photonics

In addition to the research activities, EURO-FOS also focuses on enhancing the general visibility of the photonics technology to the general public and on the research outcome of the network. EURO‐FOS exploited its size and organized more than 55 events across Europe, oriented to the general public, in order to demystify photonics and spread their significance in the modern world.

Furthermore, the EURO-FOS project organized five booths at major conferences, organized, co-organized and supported eight workshops, established the annual "Best PhD Student Research Award" and released the "Higher Education Handbook," a listing of available post‐graduate photonics programs in Europe.

Finally, two summer schools and one winter school were organized for undergrads as well as graduate and post-graduate students.

While the project funding for EURO-FOS will end at the end of April 2012, participants hope to carry on their work under a new EU-funded program and to continue many of the collaborative endeavors. The web tools of the Pan-European Lab are expected to remain active for at least a year.

Universities participating in EURO-FOS

• Athens Information Technology
• Chalmers University of Technology
• National Technical University of Athens
• Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz-Institute
• Technical University of Eindhoven
• Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
• Politecnico di Torino
• University College Cork
• Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna
• Universidad Polytecnica de Valencia
• Instituto de Telecomunicações
• Technical University of Denmark
• University of Essex
• Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
• Institut TELECOM


photo of H. AvramopoulosThe authors of this article are all participants in EURO-FOS: A. Maziotis, D. Klonidis, C. Schubert, R. Nejabati, J.A. Lazaro, D. Erasme, M. Forzati, E. Tangdiongga, P.O. Hedekvist, J. Leuthold, A. Carena, R.J. Manning, F. Fresi, P.P. Millan, X.-Z. Qiu, A. Teixeira, J. Seoane, Ch. Kouloumentas, and H. Avramopoulos. Avramopoulos, professor of the Photonics Communications Research Lab at National Technical University of Athens, is the EURO-FOS coordinator.

References and more resources 

A condensed version of this article appeared in the April 2012 print edition of SPIE Professional. Read more about this and other European research projects in this issue of SPIE Professional:

Have a question or comment about this article? Write to us at spieprofessional@spie.org.

To receive a print copy of SPIE Professional, the SPIE member magazine, become an SPIE member.

DOI: 10.1117/2.4201204.11

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