Research Fellows Directory
Professor Francesco Poletti
University of Southampton
My research focuses on the development of novel optical fibres. Optical fibres are the most efficient way ever developed to transmit light over long distances, and they have profoundly influenced many aspects of our everyday life, providing for example the indispensable backbone for long-haul telecommunications and the existence of the Internet, and enabling novel ways to diagnose and treat diseases, or to efficiently and accurately mass produce products for our everyday life.
More specifically, my project focuses on novel optical fibres called microstructured fibres and having the diameter of a human hair and hundreds of longitudinal holes that effectively guide the light and mould its properties. By suitably engineering the topology of the holes and/or by selectively filling them with strongly light-responding materials, we can drastically modify the optical properties of the fibre and reshape the colour, duration and intensity of light transmitted through it.
The most challenging and potentially rewarding project I am currently working on seeks to develop radically new optical fibres for optical data transmission. The performance of conventional all-glass telecommunication fibres forming the backbone of modern telecoms networks is close to fundamental physical limits and there is little room for further improvement. As a consequence, current optical networks seem unable to cope in the longer term with the current exponentially growing data traffic rate. Radically new solutions for next generation telecoms networks are urgently required.
In my research I co-lead a team investigating microstructured fibres which guide light in an air rather than a glass-filled central region. This has the potential advantage of allowing lower propagation loss, higher propagating powers and… faster propagation speeds! If successful we could enable faster, higher capacity data transmission links, forming the backbone of the next generation Internet.