Aston University and Pulse Power and Measurement (PPM) are working together to develop an innovative optical transport system using signal conditioning in the optical domain to deliver a lower loss, flatter signal profile for long-distance diversity solutions and higher capacity low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation architectures.

The Company

Pulse Power and Measurement (PPM) designs and manufactures a wide range of Radio Frequency (RF) over fibre systems, which allow RF electrical signals to be submitted over fibre optic cables. Its 'Vialite Communications' business division is focused on optical transportation and manipulation of analogue radio communication signals used in applications such as satellite communications, telemetry, broadcasting, cellular base stations and radar. The company has a range of high-profile clients, including the BBC, who use ViaLite links to connect its Media City facility at Salford Quays to the antenna farm on the other side of the canal, and Formula 1 racing circuits use PPM's technology to connect trackside antennas to the media village, allowing the F1 cars to relay on-board video streams. 

The Challenge

PPM is looking to develop an innovative optical transport system using signal conditioning in the optical domain to deliver a lower-loss, flatter-signal profile for long-distance diversity solutions and higher-capacity, low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation architectures. While PPM has extensive experience in microwave circuit design, it lacks sufficient expertise in the optical domain to produce this new product.

The Solution

Aston's Institute of Photonic Technologies is one of the largest photonics research groups in the UK and has a wealth of expertise in high-speed optical transmission and processing to support PPM's product development. This KTP will allow PPM to access Aston's expertise in coherent optical communications network domain techniques, enabling PPM to design products in the optical domain. 

Other benefits of the KTP will see the developing connections between Aston University and PPM have the potential to create future student placements and projects at MSc and undergraduate final-year level. The project will enable PPM to access the nascent satellite constellations market and will be part of the ongoing establishment of global satellite constellations providing more homogenous, reliable internet access globally, improving the reputation of the UK as an innovator of the space segment. 

Team Aston

The lead academic is Dr Wladek Forysiak, a Reader and EPSRC Manufacturing Fellow at Aston University in the Department of Electronic Engineering as well as a member of Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies, a world-leading research centre for photonics. His research background is in the numerical simulation of high-speed, high-capacity optical fibre communication systems and with extensive experience in academic research and leading industry R&D teams with Marconi, Ericsson and Oclaro. 

His current research interests include: optical fibre communication systems, optical devices and subsystems, numerical simulation of high speed data transmission in fibre, the impact and mitigation of device and fibre non-linearities, and enabling technologies for optical fibre communication systems and optical networking. 

He will be joined by Dr Paul Harper, Reader and Director of Undergraduate Electronic Engineering Programmes at Aston University and an experienced researcher in the field of optical fibre communications, focusing mainly on high-capacity, long-distance systems. He has extensive experience of leading industrial research and development collaborations and has published extensively in the areas of novel wide-band optical amplifiers and optical non-linearity compensation techniques for optical fibre systems. At Aston, he leads the Undergraduate teaching team as Programme Director in the Electrical, Electronic and Power Engineering department.

Next steps

The KTP is expected to complete in June 2023 – look out for more updates by following us on Twitter and checking our webpage

For more information about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships or an informal chat, email or call 0121 204 4242.