Research axes

Optical Communications

Optical communication systems and networks power our connected world. They enable the high-bandwidth connectivity required by individuals and businesses for cloud-based data storage and services. Social media, 8K video streaming and other machine-to-machine applications continue to drive demand for increased connectivity.

The fluidity of communications requires systems and networks operating over distances ranging from a few thousand kilometers for transoceanic systems to interconnections of a few meters or even a few kilometers, for data centers. Significant efforts are being made to develop innovative solutions to increase capacity and throughput, improve energy efficiency, and simplify network design, deployment and operation.

Silicon photonic chip
by Hao Sun

The optical communications axis proposes three research themes which address the following four questions:

  1. How to best use different transmission approaches to increase capacity and throughput, while improving security and reducing latency? For example, can we exploit spatial multiplexing, multimode versus multi-core fibers, or hollow-core fibers?
  2. How to interface the different data transmission channels to offer very high capacity access links with optimal efficiency and minimal latency? For example, what is the best way to combine wireless optical communications, radio-over-fiber communications, and visible light communications?
  3. How can we leverage machine learning to improve transmission performance at the physical layer and ensure better network utilization and management?
  4. What is the best way to integrate solutions using photonic technologies? For example, how to combine and condition photonic devices for signal processing in different telecommunication subsystems and network architectures?

The goals are aligned with those of sustainable development of the United Nations and aim to contribute positively to the health and well-being of populations; quality education; the right to decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure, and the development of sustainable cities and communities.

Head of research

Lawrence R. Chen

Full Professor, McGill


Research Themes


Optical communications without limits

Increase the spectral range used by covering from 1,2 μm to 2 μm
Spatial multiplexing over some modes
Interfacing broadband fiber links to RF and THz systems


Digital and optical signal processing

Signal processing taking into account photonic-electronic integration
Fast and energy efficient all-optical signal processing


Resilient, Efficient and Secure Networks

Deep Learning Model for Network Monitoring and Management
Optical Data Encoding to Improve Security

COPL members

The COPL brings together talented scientists who are distinguished by the excellence of their research and by their dedication to the training of the next generation of highly qualified personnel in optics-photonics. 

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