ICONIC: Increasing the Capacity of Optical Nonlinear Channels



Optical fibres underpin our global information society and has experienced an astonishing evolution over the past four decades. Currently deployed commercial systems based on single-mode fibres can transmit data rates in excess of 10 Tb/s per fibre. Widely deployed for the global communications infrastructure, single-mode fibres currently carry more than 99% of the global Internet traffic and are a key component in the backbone networks for mobile telephony and the Internet. The continuation of this dramatic throughput growth has become constrained due to a power dependent nonlinear distortion in single mode fibres arising from a phenomenon known as the Kerr effect. The action of this nonlinear effect in combination with dispersion and noise is modelled using a stochastic partial nonlinear differential equation known as the Nonlinear Schrödinger Equation (NLSE).

The ICONIC Project

In this project, we will answer different questions regarding information transmission through optical fibres. For example, what is the maximum amount of information that can be reliably transported by optical fibres? or how to design coded modulation systems that approach this limit? To answer these questions, we will first develop accurate channel models for the nonlinear optical channel in the high-power regime. Novel coded modulation transceivers tailored to the nonlinear optical channel will then be designed. Techniques that will be considered in this project include (but not limited to):

  • signal (constellation) shaping: geometrical and probabilistic shaping,
  • error control coding (FEC), coded modulation, and maximum likelihood detection,
  • asymptotic analysis and mismatched decoding theory,
  • nonlinear compensation techniques: digital back-propagation, Volterra equalisers, etc., and
  • novel signaling techniques: nonlinear Fourier transform and eigenvalue communications.


TU Eindhoven (TUE)