Thursday, 13 August 2020

2020 Autumn Conference - Let's get Physical: OPTICS

Let's Get Physical - Autumn 2020
Held on 12th - 16th October 2020: Five days of Physics goodness on: 

Find out more


We manipulate light for new opportunities, hollow fibres to harvesting light we explore it all

The 2020 Tommy Flowers Network conference “Let’s Get Physical” got off to an amazing blistering start on Monday . This week we’ are showcasing the fundamental role that physics and physicists have in shaping our digital future. For our first day of the conference, Our first day focussed on the study of Optics, and the lives of physicists and engineers who’ are using the physical properties of light to extend the capabilities of optical communications. 

Opening Keynote

Prof Tim WhitleyBT, MD Applied Research and MD of ‘Adastral Park’
"Purposeful Innovation in the age of digital transformation"

Back in 1984, the first commercial single mode optical fibre link from Milton Keynes to Luton was deployed by BT. Since then, customer expectations have changed rapidly – people expect to upload and share material in real time and this continues to drive innovation in the network. A really solid grasp of physics fundamentals continues to ensure that our network can deliver our customers’ expectations. 

We then gained a fascinating insight in to the work of an optical networks researcher with Neil Parker from BT. Neil He described how he brings together internal and external research and engages with business stakeholders, effectively becoming a scientific detective to resolve business problems. Neil explained the different uses of single mode fibre, multi core fibre and hollow core fibres – and gave an intriguing peek in to possible future network architectures. Neil Neil broadcast his presentation from his optics lab at Adastral and the consensus opinion of the several hundred researchers attending the conference was that, without doubt, he has the coolest lab! 

We also heard from Ardel Iddin, Technical Director at ADVA who gave a review of some of the key innovations in optical communications over the past 40 years, and gave us his view of near-term trends. He forecast the evolution of optical communications in the 21st Century - increasing core capacity, wavelength agility and driving fibre to the edge. Ardel concluded the next 5 to 10 years will see fibre extending further into the fixed and mobile access networks at a rapid pace. Continued innovation will be required to achieve the deployment at the required scale and cost. The optical communications industry remains an exciting space to be in, offering the opportunity to build on the innovation of the last 40 years.

Andrew Ellis, Optical Communications Professor at Aston University provided an in-depth focus on an academic career in photonics, and the close parallels with an industrial research career.

We wrapped up the day with a lively open forum debate chaired by Mike Williams. Neil Parker; Ardel Iddin; Andrew Ellis were joined by Alistair Poustie (Founder of Rushmere Technologies) answering questions from the audience.

The full recording of presentations and forum discussio
Please visit the speaker pages for short bios, downloads and individual recording

Prof Andrew Ellis, Aston University
"An 'academic' career in photonics"

"Total Internal Reflections"

Neil ParkinBT, Optics Team
"Optical Research at BT"

Prof Andrew Ellis, Aston University
Ardel Iddin, ADVA
Neil Parkin, BT, Optics Team
Alistair Poustie, CTO and founder of Rushmere Technology

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