UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering


Optical Networks Group Students Awarded Research Excellence Scholarships

23 April 2024

Two exceptional doctoral candidates, Yijia Cai and Romulo De Paula Junior have been awarded the prestigious UCL Research Excellence Scholarship for the academic session 2024/25.

Romulo De Paula Junior (left) and Yijia Cai (right)

The UCL Research Excellence Scholarship (RES) which covers full tuition fees and also provides an annual maintenance stipend, along with additional support for various research-related expenses, has been awarded to two outstanding students. 

Recipient Yijia Cai is at the forefront of her research in optical frequency combs (OFC), a cutting-edge technology with profound implications for biomedical imaging.

For my PhD research, I aim to develop a non-invasive, high-speed, high-resolution biomedical imaging tool based on this promising light source. This entails primarily studying nonlinear optics, optical noise, and coherent receiver technologies.”

Yijia hopes to revolutionise medical applications by enhancing scanning speed, penetration depth, sensitivity, and axial resolution.

PhD student Yijia Cai working in the lab

Reflecting on her aspirations, Yijia envisions a future where her contributions push the boundaries of light-based technology, spanning across communication and medical domains. Her ambition to establish a multidisciplinary international research network underscores her commitment to advancing knowledge and technology for the betterment of society.

Upon being awarded the Research Excellence Scholarship, Yijia expressed gratitude to her supervisor, Dr Zhixin Liu, and the supportive community at the Optical Networks Group and the department.

Romulo De Paula Junior, who was also awarded a RES, is spearheading groundbreaking research in optical fibre communication systems. His work focuses on expanding the capacity of these systems by exploring the underutilized O-band, which offers a vast bandwidth potential nearly four times that of conventional bands. Romulo's research delves into designing new systems, sources, amplifiers, and receivers to harness the transmission potential of the O-band effectively.

Beyond his current research scope, Romulo harbours ambitions to explore spatial division multiplexing (SDM), a transformative approach to enhancing transmission capacity. His career aspirations in research and development are fuelled by a deep-rooted passion for innovation and technology advancement.

I aspire to work in research and development, building upon my nearly three years of experience in Brazil. Having a PhD and all the experience earned throughout the years working on it will enable me to delve deeper into exploring and contributing to the development of innovative technologies.”

The competitive nature of the award underscores its significance, and Romulo extends heartfelt appreciation to his supervisor, Prof Polina Bayvel, for her invaluable guidance and support throughout his academic journey.

We extend our warmest congratulations to these outstanding scholars and eagerly anticipate the transformative impact of their research on the global stage.