OFTC - Optical Fibre Technology Centre

Please note the Optical Fibre Technology Centre (OFTC) closed at the end of 2008 and all of the activities transfered into IPOS.

OFTC Fibre Genetic Design Work in "The Economist"

3 October 2007

The work by Steven Manos and his supervisors Leon Poladian and Maryanne Large on genetic design of micro structured fibres continues to attract attention. Most recently The Economist discussed it in an article titled "Don’t invent, evolve". The article refers to the exciting result that this genetic approach produced a design with twice the bandwidth of conventionally designed fibre.

Full Details: Economist Article

OFTC PhD student wins a 2007 LEOS Graduate Student Fellowship

26 July 2007

Congratulations to PhD student Cicero Martelli who has won an IEEE Lasers and ElectroOptics Society (LEOS) Graduate Student Fellowship award for his work to date. In addition to the $5k honorarium he has won complimentary registration and an additional $2.5k to attend the LEOS Annual Meeting in October to receive the award at Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Full Details: LEOS Website

OFTC PhD student wins the 2007 Humies

12 July 2007

Congratulations to former student Dr. Steven Manos who recently won the Gold Prize in the 2007 Human Competitive Design Award at GECCO 2007 for work done in his PhD.

The “Humies" award human-competitive results produced by genetic and evolutionary computation.

Steven's entry, together with his supervisors Maryanne Large and Leon Poladian, was on "Evolutionary Design of Single-Mode Microstructured Polymer Optical Fibres using an Artificial Embryogeny Representation."

Full Details: Humies Website and New Scientist Article

Three OFTC PhD students are graduating

8 June 2007

Congratulations to former students Dr. Ken Lee, Dr. Steven Manos and Dr. Alex Argyros for their PhD graduation, which was held on the 8th of June at the Great Hall. Ken has gone on to study Medicine, Steve has a postdoc position at University College London and Alex has a postdoc position at the OFTC. Earlier this year it was announced that Alex was awarded the Bragg Medal by the Australian Institute for Physics for the best physics thesis in Australia.

OFTC @ OFC/NFOEC 2007, Anaheim, USA

5 April 2007

Once again, the OFTC was an exhibitor (stand #1727) at OFC/NFOEC. This is the leading international conference in telecommunications photonics and was held in Anaheim during the last week of March. We have been promoting collaborations, contract research and our supply of specialty fibres.

Full Details: OFC/NFOEC

Simon Fleming elected fellow of the IET

4 April 2007

In February Simon Fleming was elected a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. The IET (until recently the IEE) has more than 150,000 members worldwide. It is the largest professional engineering society in Europe and the second largest of its type in the world. Fellowship of the Institution is the most senior category of membership and is awarded to members who have demonstrated significant individual responsibility, sustained achievement and exceptional professionalism during their careers.

Full Details: IET Website

AIP 2006 Bragg Medal awarded to OFTC student Alex Argyros

15 January 2007

Dr Argyros' thesis, titled "Bragg Reflection and Bandgaps in Microstructured Optical Fibres", concerns the fabrication, characterization, applications and understanding of microstructured optical fibres in which light is controlled by means of Bragg reflection or photonic band gaps. The investigation consists of an extensive array of both original experimental work and thorough theoretical studies and numerical simulations. This work led to a new conceptual understanding of a "single mode" fibre and in particular resulted in the manufacture of the first hollow-core microstructure polymer fibre, which has the potential of reducing losses in polymer fibres and thus allowing them to be used more widely. Together with these and other results the thesis provides a substantial contribution to the world's scientific knowledge in the area of microstructured optical fibres.

These achievements have been recognized as significant and influential with 18 publications in refereed international journals and 21 conference papers. Dr Argyros' thesis has also generated 5 patents and one provisional patent, and various other awards and prizes. Although most of the work was done collaboratively, it is clear that Dr Argyros has played a leading role in the majority of the work.

The panel unanimously decided to recommend Dr Alex Argyros for the Australian Institute of Physics Bragg Medal for 2006. (The recommendation of the 2006 Bragg Medal on an investigation of Bragg reflection is a coincidence but it should also remind us once again of the legacy of our Australian physicists.)

ARC Grant Successes

In the recently announced outcomes of applications for ARC funding for 2007 two groups of OFTC researchers won sizable grants. Drs John Canning and Ian Basset won a prestigious Australian Professorial Fellowship and Discovery Project entitled "Advanced Laser, Sensor and Diagnostic Technologies Using New Generation Micro and Nano Structured Fibres and Gratings" worth $1,164,900 over five years. Prof. Simon Fleming and Dr Seong-sik Min won a Discovery Project entitled "Engineered Glass for Next Generation Optical Fibre Devices and Systems" worth $351,000 over three years.

Advanced Laser, Sensor and Diagnostic Technologies Using New Generation Micro- and Nano- Structured Fibres and Gratings Invesitigators: Dr J Canning; Dr IM Bassett Value: $1,164,900 Duration: 2007-2011 Project: The project aims to provide the next generation of laser and sensor technologies, benefiting not only advanced instrument industries but also others involved with materials processing, sensing diagnostics, biomedicine and defence. The search for a universal model of light interactions with all photosensitive materials, coupled with a demonstration of nanotechnology within a fibre, will lead to new gratings and fibres that underpin these technologies as well as open up new techniques and processes such as practical radiation hardening of optical waveguides.

Nano-Engineered Glass for Next Generation Optical Fibre Devices and Systems Invesitigators: Prof SC Fleming; Dr S Min Value: $351,000 Duration: 2007-2009 Project: Optical fibre and fibre devices are a major technology platform of the IT revolution. The global photonics market is valued at $220bn, with Australian industry contributing ~$500m to the Australian economy. $158m is from communications photonics companies, largely SMEs, and comprises roughly 1% of the global telecoms photonic market. For Australia to be a significant player in this very competitive environment, the industry needs a continuing flow of research innovations. The breakthrough science in this research project will extend Australia's world leading speciality fibre and fibre device capabilities and the innovation will succour the growing Australian industry, ensuring a place on the next wave of deployment of photonic technology.

International Workshop on Multiphoton Processes in Glass and Glassy Materials

Department of Education Science & Training (DEST)
French-Australian Science & Technology (FAST) program
Australian Research Council (ARC)
Australian Research Network for Advanced Materials (ARNAM)

Advanced Notification
1st International Workshop on Multiphoton Processes in Glass and Glassy Materials

Darlington Centre,
University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Dec 11-12 2006

Multiphoton processes are initiated by high intensity laser light, increasingly operating in the femtosecond domain. Applications extend from simple material processing, microfluidic channel formation and waveguide manufacture to photonic bandgap structures in 1, 2 and 3 dimensions. Processing of silica remains particularly relevant, although other glassy systems are increasingly attractive. The processes underpinning excitation deep into the band edge of a material remain complex and are the subject of intense research. This workshop brings together experts in the field for the first time to debate and discuss these processes and how they can be exploited to further utilise and optimise the multiphoton approach to optical engineering of materials and devices.

A particular ambition of this workshop is to expose Australian students and early career researchers working in this field to the latest thinking from around Australia and the world, as well as provide an opportunity to network and link up with the groups leading the way in multiphoton processing.

The workshop is an advanced specialised workshop and the audience numbers will be capped to 50. Expression of interest for attendance are sought in the first instance from those who work in the field or work in applications that make use of such technology. Remaining seats will be generally open.

Note funds are available to assist travel and accommodation for Australian students and early career researchers attending the workshop - preference will be given to presenters.

Opportunities for sponsorship exist. Preliminary Sponsors:

ARC Centre of Excellence: Centre for Ultrahigh Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) Raymax Applications Pty Ltd

OFTC student wins inaugural DuPont Tertiary Student Award

2 June 2006

An OFTC student, Alex Argryros has won the inaugural DuPont Tertiary Student Award, sponsored by ABB Australia, for his work in developing hollow core polymer fibres. The award, which was open to students from Australia and New Zealand, was presented in Melbourne on 12th May 2006. The award recognises more than the scientific excellence of the work- the independent panel of judges made their decision on the basis of the degree of innovation, the scope of application, and commercial significance.

OFTC PhD Student Prize

9 May 2006

OFTC PhD student, Yahua Li, was awarded a prize as "Outstanding Self-Funded Student" by the Chinese government. The prize was awarded at the NSW Chinese Consulate on 5th May 2006. The photograph shows DVC-Academic Prof Johnn Hearn and his wife, The Chinese Consul General Qiu Shaofang, prize-winner Yahua Li and his supervisor Prof Simon Fleming. Yahua's PhD was undertaken at the OFTC in the Development and Application of High Power Raman Fibre Lasers and was supervised by Stuart Jackson, Simon Fleming and Javid Atai.

China recognises an outstanding export in the Sydney University International News, 29/5/2006.

Recent OFTC ARC Grant wins

The creation and opimisation of new optical fibres and novel diode-pumped fibre lasers for applications in medicine, defence and the environment Chief Investigator: Stuart Jackson Duration: 2006-2008 Funding: $335,000 Project summary: An extensive range of new generation diode-pumped fibre lasers based on new optical fibre geometries, new doping techniques and new pump and resonator configurations will be created. The air clad optical fibre technology will be fully developed and used to create ultra-compact fibre lasers, high power DFB fibre lasers and highly efficient diode-pumped mid-infrared and Raman fibre lasers. The innovative range of optical fibres and fibre lasers will directly benefit applications in medicine, defence and the environment providing new opportunities for Australian research, for Australian industry and for international collaboration.

Tailoring the functionality of microstructured polymer optical fibres Chief Investigators: Dr Martijn A van Eijkelenborg and A/Prof Geoff W Barton Duration: 2006-2008 Funding: $400,000 Project summary: Australia leads the world in microstructured polymer optical fibre (mPOF) research that has attracted serious commercial interest from multinational companies. A series of ATSE funded workshops in Europe during 2004 strongly indicated that the incorporation of a range of additional functionalities within novel fibres is the right path to follow to maintain research momentum and leadership. This interdisciplinary project offers a clear route to expanded collaboration in both Australia and overseas thus ensuring that the OFTC retains its research and technological edge into the future whilst helping to satisfy the demand for students trained in leading-edge photonics.

Low energy all optical logic gates with improved cascadability and fan out for future optical communications and signal processing systems Chief Investigator: Prof. Simon Fleming Duration: 2006-2008 Funding: $345,000 Project Summary: All optical logic processing is the key to overcoming electronic bottlenecks in high speed communication networks as single channel speeds exceed electronic capabilities. This project will investigate novel all-optical logic gates for high-speed all-optical networks and data-processing systems. The proposed optical logic gates will be based on cross-phase modulation (XPM) through a new Er-doped polarization maintaining highly nonlinear optical loop mirror, which will provide more flexible fan-out cascadability, sufficient timing tolerance, high switching efficiency, high contrast ratio, low switching energy and Boolean completeness.

Australasian Science Prize for Fantastic Plastic Fibre Optics

7 November 2005

Australian research that is set to revolutionise fibre optics with global applications has earned a team from the University of Sydney the Australasian Science Prize for 2005. The Prize was presented on Monday 7 November to Alexander Argyros, Dr Martijn van Eijkelenborg and Dr Maryanne Large.

The Australasian Science Prize was established in 2000 by the region.s pioneering monthly science magazine to reward outstanding research by individuals or small groups. Applicants are nominated and refereed by leading scientists on research published in peer-reviewed journals, including in the preceding 12 months. Criteria include originality, depth of impact and evidence of effective communication.

The team in the University.s Optical Fibre Technology Centre (OFTC) has succeeded where other teams have so far failed, finding a way to make optical fibres from polymers (plastics) that can perform competitively with silica fibres while being far easier and cheaper to manufacture.

Optical fibres are a multi-billion dollar industry, having played a key part in the information technology revolution. However, glass fibres are expensive, fragile and not very flexible, limiting their applications. Polymer fibres, on the other hand, are cheap to produce, tough and more flexible . but polymers are not as transparent as glass, and attempts to solve this problem have produced polymers whose greater expense largely counteracted any advantages gained.

  • Australasian Science - 'Fantastic Plastic Fibre Optics Earn Australasian Science Prize'
  • Australian IT - 'Plastic fibre wins science prize'
  • Industry Search - 'New plastic technology set to revolutionise fibre optics'
  • MPOF Hollow core fibre features in the Taiwan newspaper 'Liberty Times' - 8/11/2005 PDF file, www

BGPP/ACOFT 2005 Conference and Workshops

Next week sees the start of some important conferences in Sydney which are strongly linked to the OFTC. The Bragg Gratings, Poling & Photosensitivity / 30th Australian Conference on Optical Fibre Technology (BGPP/ACOFT) 2005 begins on Monday 4/7/2005.

Two workshops are being held in conjunction with the conferences: Photonic Crystals: Fundamentals to Devices and The International Workshop on Optical Waveguide Theory and Numerical Modelling. These events have attracted some of the top scientists in the field from around the world. For further details, please check the websites:

OFTC makes an all-plastic air-core guiding photonic band gap fibre

Reported as "Fibre transmission advance" in The Australian IT Today page 36, Tuesday 21st June 2005 by Jennifer Foreshew - Research. link.

RESEARCHERS have made a breakthrough in polymer fibre technology that may be used for long-distance communication. Sydney University's optical fibre technology centre has used an all-plastic photonic band gap fibre to guide light in an air channel, as opposed to through the material.

This greatly reduces the influence of the material on the transmission.

"With this technique you can get the transmission loss much further down and polymer fibres may actually then become available for long-distance communication rather than only short-distance communication," OFTC project leader Martijn van Eijkelenborg said.

The technique would be announced at a conference on optical fibre technology in Sydney next month, he said. It would also be presented at an event in Hong Kong later this year.

The air channel structure could extend the range of plastic fibres from a few hundred metres to kilometres.

"Usually with polymer, the material's influence on the light propagation is to be avoided because they are not as transparent as glass, so light doesn't travel quite as far," Dr van Eijkelenborg said.

With sufficient funding a product could be ready within a year, he said. "There is huge potential for mass-production and the principle can be used to make plastic optical fibre with very low transmission loss."

The OFTC, which received almost $1 million in funding this year, has patented the innovation.

Dr van Eijkelenborg said polymer fibre may be preferable to glass for some applications, such as laser surgery, because it was safer and more flexible.

The Australian

OFTC student graduates with University Medal

17 June 2005

Congratulations to Shelley Wickham, who graduated in Physics with the University Medal. Shelley did a project on optical microstructures in butterfly wing scales, which also won the Shiroki Prize for the best Physics Honours Thesis. Her project was supervised by Maryanne Large and Leon Poladian, with Lars Jermiin from the School of Biological Sciences giving guidance on evolutionary biology and punctuation.

OFTC students were well represented at the School of Physics Prizes last Friday

Shelley Wickham won the Shiroki Prize for the best Honours thesis and Ben Fulcher, who did his project work with us, won the Levey Scholarship. Jacqui Hayes and James Griffin, who are both doing projects with this OFTC this year, also won prizes- Jacqui won a School of Physics Honours Scholarship, and James shared the Slade Prize for Practical Physics. It is also a pleasure to congratulate two of our former students: Christine Lindstrom [Julius Sumner Miller Scholarship and the Slade Prize for Practical Physics] and Jamie Vahn [Science Foundation for Physics Scholarship]. Very well done to all concerned.

Congratulations to Katja Lyytikainen who graduated with a PhD on Friday 29/10/04. Well done from all us!

OFTC wins the Australian Computer Society Eureka Prize for ICT Innovation

12 August 2004

The prize was awarded for the development of a new fibre technology, microstructured polymer optical fibres (mPOF) which can be cheaply mass-produced with bandwidth characteristics that make them competitive with more expensive rivals. The design versatility of mPOF is exceptional, and makes them particularly suitable for novel applications such as high-speed connections between computer chips. MPOF are poised to become the means by which data is transmitted over short distances, in the office, the home, and even inside computers.

MPOF technology has aroused technical interest for a simple and compelling reason: it is a disruptive technology that offers significant advantages for short distance high-speed applications. Our graded index microstructured fibre has a bandwidth of 2.4 Gbits/s over 100m. This result is comparable to that obtained with more expensive conventional approaches, and was obtained without design optimisation. We have shown also that we can produce multicore fibres suitable for interconnect applications with a core spacing far smaller than is possible with existing fibre bundles. More recent demonstrations include making a fibre amplifier and laser, and developing the technology to make active fibre devices. There are also a variety of other applications, particularly in sensors, that we are currently exploring.

A big part of the success of the group has been its collaborations across the University, including mathematicians, physicists, chemical and mechanical engineers and technical staff, from senior academics to students, including undergraduates. It's been very much a team effort and, it's a great team. Well done!

OFTC students win prizes

21 May 2004

Congratulations to Christine Lindstrom and James Griffin (pictured) for their success in winning prizes in the School of Physics. Both students did projects at the OFTC as part of the Talented Student Program. Christine worked on the use of optical fibres in astronomy, and James on naturally occurring optical microstructures. Christine won the Cadbury-Julius Sumner Miller Scholarship Number 1, and the Sky and Space prize for Astronomy, and James won the Smith Prize for Experimental Physics. Congratulations also to Steven Manos, a postgraduate at the OFTC, for being shortlisted for the student award at the Co-operative Research Centres (CRC) showcase. Steve, who works on the use of evolutionary strategies for fibre design, was judged in top 4 of 35 entries. The award will be announced at the CRC Showcase in early June.

Congratulations to graduating students

19 May 2004

Three OFTC students graduated on 14th May. Richard Lwin graduated from the School of Aerospace, Mechanical & Mechatronic Engineering, Cathy Cheung graduated from the School of Chemical Engineering, and Hong Nguyen, who also received the University medal, graduated from the School of Physics. Richard and Cathy are continuing their careers at the OFTC- both are doing PhDs. Richard is studying the rheology of the fibre draw process for ZDNet, The Australian, Yahoo news and CommsWorld.

For more information see: 1. "Imaging with microstructured polymer fibre,", M A van Eijkelenborg, to appear in Optics Express Vol 12, No. 3, Feb 2004.
2. New Scientist. Issue of 22 January, 2004. Skinny endocope queezes into new niches.
3. MPOF page