Institute of Communications and Connected Systems



2 January 2024

Ultra-scalable clock and carrier SYNChronisation for optical and wireless networks using sequentially-locked optical frequency combs.

Funder UKRI
Amount £ 600,000 (exact figures TBC)

Research topics xxx



This project is driven by the insatiable demand of today’s communication systems for higher data rates, placing increased strain on the limited and overcrowded radio spectrum, especially for wireless systems. Current technologies operate in the sub-6GHz frequencies, but future systems aim to operate at much higher frequencies in the millimeter wave (mm-wave) spectrum, extending beyond 30GHz. Initial standardisation efforts established these frequencies for 5G systems, while for 6G systems, there is consideration of significantly higher frequencies, up to 300 GHz and enabling substantially faster data rates within a much less congested spectrum. The shift to higher frequencies, however, presents challenges due to the less mature state of technologies and techniques compared to sub-6GHz ones. To support reliable communication links at rates exceeding 10Gbit/s for applications like telepresence, holography, remote medicine, high-accuracy positioning and more, clean and distortion-free signals are crucial; innovative methods for generating such signals become essential.

USYNC addresses this challenge by focusing on signal generation and delivery across a broad frequency range from sub-6GHz to the D band (up to 170GHz). By leveraging optical and wireless technologies, USYNC aims to provide flexibility, scalability, accurate synchronization, and low-noise signal transmission. The goal is to achieve a significant improvement of at least an order of magnitude over existing systems. USYNC brings together three world leading organizations with complementary expertise to accomplish this goal. Clean seed signals, set as a series of frequency components known as a “comb” of frequency will be generated by Menhir (Switzerland). These signals will be processed for utilisation and distribution to many sites for conversion to mm-wave radio signals carrying high data rate information (UCL). BT will coordinate the work and BT research laboratories will provide a highly stable signal source (Atomic Clock, sent over an optical fibre network, to lock all the signals generated by Menhir and utilised by UCL. This will not only result in one of the world’s “cleanest” reference signals but also will help set the standards and boundaries of the design and provide the key techniques and limits of operating this new system. By combining the unique technology provided by Menhir, the design concepts of UCL, and the technologies and telecommunications operator expertise of BT, USYNC will develop the world's first scalable mm-wave signal source. This advancement will enable future systems to transmit signals at rates approaching 100Gbit/s, revolutionizing communication capabilities and paving the way for new systems, applications and standards.


View Principal Investigator's Publications