UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering


UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship awarded to Filipe M. Ferreira

19 October 2020

Dr Filipe M. Ferreira has been awarded a £1.2 million grant through the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellowship programme to develop new technologies for expanding Internet capacity.

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For the past few decades, the Internet has been growing at a rate of 100 times every 10 years. This expansion has been powered by optical fibre transmission systems, but current technologies are now reaching their efficiency limits.

This means that upgrading the Internet will come with increasingly higher costs as content and data demands continue to grow. Filipe will use his Future Leaders Fellowship award to find innovative solutions to this problem. He'll put together a multi-disciplinary team to develop new technologies capable of establishing thousands of parallel optical paths over a single optical fibre strand. This has not been done before because over long distances these optical paths become scrambled beyond the unravelling capabilities of anything in existence up to now. Filipe and his team will develop a new photonic processor that merges photonic integrated circuits and machine learning so that large-scale spatial parallelism can be achieved within every optical fibre. 

Dr Ferreira said:

"I am immeasurably happy about receiving a Future Leaders Fellowship, and relieved that I have good news for the many people that helped me along the years. It’s a unique opportunity, with the scale, flexibility and duration of the funding to support innovative ideas capable of delivering long-term impact and growth for the UK. This fits perfectly with my research aim – to go beyond current information channel limits – arguably the greatest challenge currently faced by digital optical communications." 

Filipe is currently a TRANSNET Senior Research Fellow, having joined the Optical Networks Group at UCL in 2019, moving from the AIPT, Aston University, a partner organisation within the TRANSNET programme. Through the Future Leaders Fellowship scheme, Filipe can now build his own team and establish himself as an independent researcher.

Professor Polina Bayvel, Head of the Optical Networks Group commented:

"We are delighted that Dr Ferreira’s outstanding potential has been recognised in this way. As a holder of a Future Leaders Fellowship, Dr Ferreira will play a big part in building the Optical Networks Group research programme, continuing our quest to advance optical networks for the next generation, maximising optical capacity and delivering bandwidth, flexibly and with low delay, when and where it is needed."

Filipe is one of seven UCL academics to be named a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow in the latest round of awards. 


Dr Filipe M. Ferreira’s Profile 
TRANSNET Programme
Optical Networks Group 
UCL Institute of Communications & Connected Systems
UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering
UCL Engineering
UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships