Ten years of research culminate in a patent in optical telecommunications

A collaboration between Christine Tremblay and Ciena

Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Christine Tremblay ÉTS
Christine Tremblay.

While we use the internet on a regular basis, we don’t always realize that it is primarily a fiber optic network with wireless access points. This fiber optic network spans the globe and the oceans with thousands of miles of undersea cables. These cables carry data—such as videos, images or files—in the form of optical pulses. These pulses are generated by optical transmitters and then detected by optical receivers. 

However, receivers in today’s networks can tune in to a specific wavelength. This makes networks more difficult to reconfigure when there is an increase in traffic. Moreover, a significant increase in traffic may eventually require the deployment of new terminals and cables. As you can imagine, this is a time-consuming and costly operation. 

Christine Tremblay, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and founder of the Network Technology Laboratory at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), plans to tackle this problem with a newly patented technology she developed in collaboration with Ciena and a post-doctoral researcher and a master’s student on her team. 

Based on a decade of research in filterless networks, the concept behind the technology is based on coherent transceivers that can be dynamically reconfigured as traffic changes in optical links deployed across several time zones. This allows the receiver to adapt quickly to these variations, as it can select any of the 80 possible frequencies in the optical spectrum due to the filterless architecture of the terminals and optical links. 

In addition, the new technology allows for the use of existing infrastructure and takes advantage of the fact that waves of traffic occur at different times of the day from one time zone to another. For example, there is more traffic during the day in some areas than at night, when most people are sleeping. A filterless optical network can therefore select the most appropriate transmitters and frequencies during a given period to maximize its capacity. 

Chantal Crevier

Communications and Student recruitment service

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