EE 440 – Photonic systems and technology

Prof. Camille-Sophie Brès


This course is a graduate-level introduction to the field of optical communications. The main goal of this course is to provide a solid basis and methodology of fiber optics and opto-electronics with an emphasis on generic concepts and techniques. We will cover the different components of an optical communication system, look at design parameters and limitations. As much as possible, we will look at recent advances in this exciting field.

Overall this course is intended to present the operation principles of contemporary optical communication systems employing optical fibers and modern opto-electronic devices.

G. Agrawal ‘Fiber-optic communication systems’, Wiley (2012)
B. Saleh, M. Teich ‘Fundamentals of photonics’, Wiley (2007)

G. Kaiser ‘Opticaé fiber communications’, McGraw-Hill (2008)
G. Agrawal ‘Lightwave Technology’, (2005)


Topic 1

  • Introduction to optical communication
    Agrawal ‘Fiber-optic communication systems’ – § 1

Topic 2: The optical transmitter

  • Photonic sources – LED and semiconductor lasers
    Agrawal ‘Fiber-optic communication systems’ – § 3
    Saleh & Teich ‘Fundamentals of photonics’  – § 11, 13, 15
  • Optical modulators, modulation format, bit stream generation
    Agrawal ‘Fiber-optic communication systems’ – § 3

Topic 3: Signal propagation

  • The optical fiber, fiber losses and dispersion
  • Basic propagation equation
  • Polarization effect and dispersion compensation
    Agrawal ‘Fiber-optic communication systems’ – § 2, 7
    Saleh & Teich ‘Fundamentals of photonics’  – § 9

Topic 4: Nonlinear effects

  • General concepts, optical Kerr effect, solitons and other effects
    G. Agrawal ‘Lightwave Technology’ – § 4

Topic 5: Signal recovery

  • Photodetectors
  • Receivers, noise and sensitivity
  • Bit error rate and sensitivity degradation
    Agrawal ‘Fiber-optic communication systems’ – § 4, 10

Topic 6: Light amplification

  • Optical amplifier basics, 3 and 4 level systems, EDFA
  • Raman amplifiers, noise, OSNR and SNR
    Agrawal ‘Fiber-optic communication systems’ – § 6
    Saleh & Teich ‘Fundamentals of photonics’  – § 14

Topic 7: Multichannel systems and space division multiplexing

  • Advanced lightwave systems
    Agrawal ‘Fiber-optic communication systems’ – § 8
    Research paper review

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the student must be able to:

  • Identify the different sources of performance degradation on an optical link
  • Assess / Evaluate the limitations of an optical link based on fiber and light source parameters
  • Explain the operating principles of various electro-optics devices such as lasers, modulators and detectors
  • Compare the performance of different photo-detectors
  • Assess / Evaluate ther performance of optical data transmission based on bit error rates
  • Explain the source of optical nonlinearities
  • Compute power budgets, dispersion limits and rise time budgets
  • Derive rate equations for lasing and amplification
  • Justify the use of a component in an optical link depending on the application and the required performance