Short courses


Photonic Sub-Systems

  • 150 hours
  • 8 weeks (2pm to 6pm each Thursday) + optional exam


This short course covers the principles of photonic sub-systems including external optical modulators and optical amplifiers, both semiconductor and fibre.

This course teaches you how to design, fabricate and characterise photonic circuits and discusses their performance.

You will also consider emerging topics such as coherent systems and sub-system integration.

Applications are discussed in communications and high precision measurement.

The course is run by UCL's Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering.

Who this course is for

The department's short courses/CPD modules are aimed at those working in the telecommunications industry such as researchers, engineers, IT professionals and managers.

They're particularly suited to graduates in electronic and electrical engineering, communications engineering and computer science who want to further their knowledge on a particular topic, or work towards a Master's degree.

You don't need to have any pre-requisite qualifications to take this course.

Course content

The course covers the following topics:

Modulation coding formats and multiplexing

Coding formats; multiplexing; bandwidth efficiency; noise; bit error rate (BER); Receiver design: detection threshold level; intersymbol interference; wave shaping; hamming distance; forward error correction (FEC); constellation symbol diagrams; transmitter design, RZ, NRZ, CSRZ

Photonic modulator devices

Quantum confined stark effect (QCSE); electro-absorption modulator (EAM); asymmetric Fabry Perot modulator (AFPM); Mach-Zehnder modulator (MZ); semiconductor optical amplifier (SOA); travelling wave amplifier (TWA); electro-optic polymer fibre modulator; phase modulators; amplitude-phase coupling, henry factor; polarisation modulation

Optical fibre amplifier devices

Erbium doped fibre amplifiers (EDFA); optical pumping; saturation; Raman amplifier; cascaded optical fibre amplifiers; signal to noise ratio; amplified spontaneous emission (ASE); power self-regulation; unrepeatered submarine optical fibre links

Photonic transmitter design

Laser drive circuit with two feedback loops; bias-T laser Driver; AC or DC coupling; parasitic impedances; case rtudy of real laser driver designs

Direct detection receiver design

Clock recovery; front end circuit designs; bandwidth, noise, receiver dynamic range planar

Photonic circuits

Silicon optical microbench; silicon v-grooves; transmitter optical sub-assembly (TOSA); receiver optical sub-assembly (ROSA); compact transceiver sub-assemblies, XFP, SFP, SFP+; microelectromechanical systems (MEMS); silicon waveguides; plasmonic integrated circuits; silica waveguides on silicon wafers; polymer waveguides on printed circuit boards; 80 Gb/s pluggable optical connector design

Industrial design case study: optical link design

Photodetector noise in optical communications systems

Types of noise; calculation of total noise by combining the noise contributions; signal to noise ratio effect on the photocurrent

Wireless over fibre transmission systems

Link analysis; signal to noise ratio; link linearisation; optical feed-forward transmitter circuit; performance; eye diagrams; single mode and multimode wireless over fibre links; intermediate frequency (IF) over optical multimode fibre (MMF); digital signals over MMF; radio frequency over MMF; frequency response and eye diagrams; commercial case studies

Future coherent optical systems

Fundamental coherent detection principles; coherent detection theory; homodyne, heterodyne and intradyne detection; coherent gain; balanced detection; noise; BER

Advanced modulation formats and their detection and demodulation

QPSK; 90 degree optical hybrids; quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM); orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM); IQ receivers; polarisation modulation

Optical phase locking

Optical phase locked loops (OPLL); loop filter response; the effect of laser phase noise on locking stability; laser injection locking; digital optical coherent receivers; digital signal processing (DSP)

High precision measurement (metrology) and precise frequency generation

Laser range finding systems; light detection and ranging (LIDAR); generation of multiple narrow laser spectral lines equally spaced in frequency, frequency comb; mode-locked lasers; time domain spectroscopy; calibration of time relative to an atomic clock; terahertz and microwave radiation generation and detection

Dates, assessment and certificates

The course runs over eight weeks, with an optional exam.

Classes will be held from 2pm to 6pm every Thursday.

If you complete the course but not the exam, you'll receive a certificate of attendance.

If you take and pass the exam you'll get a certificate stating this, which includes your pass level.

Benefits of our Electronics and Engineering CPD courses

You can take this course as a standalone (one-off) course/module, or accumulate it towards an MSc qualification (up to two standalone modules can be transferred towards the flexible MSc degree).

Benefits for employees
The programme offers the opportunity for professional people working in the telecommunications industry to develop their career, be able to respond to changes in their environment, and learn while they earn. It's also designed to give you the opportunity of working towards an MSc qualification from an academic institution whose quality is recognised world-wide.

Benefits for employers
Our flexible CPD courses enhance staff motivation and assists in the recruitment and retention of high-quality staff. It enables your company to keep ahead of the competition by tapping into world-leading research, and to profit from UCL's world class Telecommunications and Business expertise.

View the full range of related courses available.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, you should be able to do the following:

  • Know and understand the scientific principles and methodology necessary to underpin your education in photonic subsystems, to enable appreciation of its scientific and engineering context, and to support your understanding of historical, current, and future developments and technologies
  • Comprehensively understand the scientific principles of photonic subsystems and related disciplines such as knowing how to generate terahertz and microwave radiation using lasers
  • Know and understand the mathematical principles necessary to underpin your education in photonic subsystems to enable you to apply mathematical methods, tools and notations proficiently in the analysis and solution of engineering problems
  • Be aware of developing technologies related to photonic subsystems such as generation of terahertz and microwave radiation using lasers
  • Ability to apply and integrate knowledge and understanding of other engineering disciplines such as telecommunications and metrology to support study of photonic subsystems
  • An ability to use fundamental knowledge to investigate new and emerging technologies such as how to fabricate planar photonic circuits and how to design photonic sub-systems for high precision measurement (metrology) of time and distance
  • Extract data pertinent to an unfamiliar problem, and apply in its solution computer-based engineering tools when appropriate
  • Apply a systems approach to engineering problems
  • Have a wide knowledge and comprehensive understanding of design processes and methodologies for photonic devices and interconnects and the ability to apply and adapt them in unfamiliar situations, knowing their limitations such as to design a wide range of photonic transmitters and photonic receivers using basic and advanced modulation formats to meet specific signal to noise ratio and bit error rate requirements
  • Make general evaluations of commercial risks through some understanding of the basis of such risks by considering the creation of photonic circuit sub-system designs to solve practical problems of industrial relevance
  • Thoroughly understand current practice and its limitations, and have some appreciation of likely new developments such as how to design photonic sub-systems for high precision measurement (metrology) of time and distance
  • Apply engineering techniques taking account of a range of commercial and industrial constraints by creating photonic circuit sub-system designs to solve practical problems of industrial relevance

Course team

Dr David Selviah

Dr David Selviah

David studied Physics and Theoretical Physics at Trinity College, Cambridge, specialising in mathematical modelling. He then joined the industrial electronics company Plessey (now Bookham Technology) where he designed, modelled, clean-room fabricated and characterised novel RF surface acoustic wave correlators for use in pulsed radar and secure communications. In 1983 he joined the Department of Engineering Science and Christchurch, Oxford University, to design, model, clean room fabricate and characterise SAW RF linear chirp pulse compression filters for use in radar systems and oversaw the transfer of the technology to a manufacturing company.

In 1987 he joined UCL's Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering where he founded the Optical Devices and Systems Research Laboratory and carried out research for 20 years leading to over 100 publications and patents. He's academic leader of the £1.3 million EPSRC IeMRC Flagship project on Optical waveguide Printed Circuit Boards (OPCBs) in which three universities and 10 companies are collaborating. His research group Optical Devices and Systems Laboratory is recognised as delivering world-leading research and is listed as a UK Technology Centre of Excellence.

Course information last modified: 11 Feb 2020, 16:58