PhD in the project FUN-NOTCH: Fundamentals of the Nonlinear Optical Channel

Research / Academic

Fibre optics are critical infrastructure for society because they carry nearly all the global Internet traffic. For a long time, optical fibre systems were thought to have infinite information-carrying capabilities. With current traffic demands growing by a factor between 10 and 100 every decade, however, this is no longer the case. In fact, it is currently unknown if the installed optical infrastructure will manage to cope with these demands in the future, or if we will face the so-called 'capacity crunch'. This potential capacity crunch is due to a power dependent nonlinear distortion in single mode fibres arising from a phenomenon known as the Kerr effect. The action of this nonlinear effect in combination with dispersion and noise is modelled using a stochastic partial nonlinear differential equation known as the Nonlinear Schrödinger Equation (NLSE). This is the starting point for this project.

The FUN-NOTCH Project

To satisfy traffic demands, transceivers are being operated near the nonlinear regime of the fibres. In this regime, a power-dependent nonlinear phenomenon known as the Kerr effect becomes the key impairment that limits the information-carrying capability of optical fibres. The intrinsic nonlinear nature of these fibres makes the analysis very difficult and has led to a series of unanswered fundamental questions about data transmission in nonlinear optical fibres, and nonlinear media in general. For example, the maximum amount of information that optical fibres can carry in the highly nonlinear regime is still unknown, and the design of transceivers well-suited for this regime is also completely unexplored. These fundamental questions are the key objective of this project which will ultimately give an answer to the capacity crunch question. 

FUN-NOTCH is a 5-year research grant (ERC Starting Grant) financed by the European Research Council ( . This grant involves one principal investigator (Dr. A. Alvarado, ) as well as two fully-funded PhD students and two postdoctoral researchers. Some of the problems/topics that this project will address are discrete- and continuous-time channel models in the highly nonlinear regime, information theory and channel capacity analysis of the nonlinear fiber optical channel, modulation, signal shaping, and forward error correction. This project also involves experimental validations. 

Academic and Research Environment

Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is one of Europe's top technological universities, situated in the heart of one of Europe's largest high-tech innovation ecosystems. Research at TU/e is characterized by a combination of academic excellence and a strong real-world impact. This impact is often obtained via close collaboration with high-tech industries. This exciting PhD project will be carried out at the signal processing systems (SPS) group, in particular in the ICT Lab ( This project is carried out also in close collaboration with the electro-optical communications (ECO) group ( as well as with industrial partners both groups collaborate with. The positions will include international short- and medium-term research visits to academic or industrial research institutions.</p


We are hiring 1 PhD student fully funded for 4 years. The candidate should be able bridge the distance between advanced fundamental concepts and theories on the one hand, and practical implementation and evaluation of these concepts on the other hand. They should be able to think out of the box, distinguish main lines from details, and provide structure to their work, have excellent multidisciplinary team working and communication skills, and be fluent in English. 

The candidate must have a strong MSc degree in signal processing, communications, or information theory. The degree should generally not be older than three years. Affinity with optical communications is beneficial but not mandatory. Experience with the NLSE is desirable. Candidates with a degree in applied mathematics or nonlinear physics are also welcome to apply.</p

Salary Benefits:

We offer a challenging job at a dynamic and ambitious university through a fixed-term appointment for a period of 4 years. The research in this project must be concluded with the attainment of a Ph.D. degree. As an employee of the university you will receive a competitive salary as well as excellent employment conditions. A salary is offered starting at € 2266.- per month (gross) in the first year, increasing up to € 2897.- per month (gross) in the last year. Moreover, an 8% bonus share (holiday supplement) is provided annually. Assistance for finding accommodation can be given. The university offers an attractive package of fringe benefits such as excellent technical infrastructure, child care, savings schemes, and excellent sports facilities. 

TU/e also offers you the opportunity for personal development by developing your social and communication skills. We do this by offering every PhD student a series of courses that are part of the PROOF program as an excellent addition to your scientific education.

More information on employment conditions can be found here: employment conditions.</p
Work Hours:

38 hours per week


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