PhD in Novel Photonic Switched Networks for Next Generation Optical Data Centers

Updated: 15 days ago
Deadline: 30 Jun 2024

Irène Curie Fellowship



Electrical Engineering

Reference number


Job description

The smart optical networks lab (SONL) at the Electro-Optics Communication (ECO) group at Eindhoven University of Technology is recruiting for a PhD position to research novel photonic switched networks for next generation optical data center networks.

The electro-optical communications (ECO) group in the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at TU/e is a globally recognised, leading scientific and applied research group focused on exploiting light for communication and quantum systems. We apply our knowledge in collaboration with other scientists at TU/e and more recently within the newly formed Eindhoven Hendrik Casimir Institute (EHCI) to develop the required solution for many of the relevant challenges in communication and sensing systems. The group expertise spans from the fundamentals and physics of photonics, optics, the design and fabrication of photonic integrated circuits (PICs) systems to exploiting optical linear/non-linear signal processing to unlock fiber capacity and relevant higher layer protocols required to operate modern optical communication networks.

Based in the purposely built FLUX building at the TU/e Campus, the ECO group has access to 300m2 of labs for conducting experimental research and is supported by a state-of-the-art 800m2 cleanroom. With 11 tenured scientists and as many as 70 PhDs, postDocs and senior researchers, the ECO group is a vibrant and exciting research group perfectly suited for talented and ambitious scientists. The group is active in spin outs and starts-ups (e.g. Astrape Networks, PhotonX Networks) and carries out bilateral industrial research with major stakeholders in the communications industry.

With the continuous shift to cloud computing, advanced machine learning applications, and the deployment of 5G and future 6G systems, the size and traffic of data centers is steadily growing. The proliferation of data centers and the need to ensure low latency access and no loss of data is forcing data center operators to invest much more effort and resources into creating reliable and high throughput networks to connect multiple computers clusters within the data center. Current solutions which rely on fixed electronic switching of data packets and pre-defined optical provisioning of data channels fail to exploit the full potential of optical networks to create low latency, high throughput and low energy consuming interconnect networks. This PhD project targets the design, prototyping, and demonstration of novel photonic switching networks and fast controls for next generation optical data centers in order to demonstrate the use of novel photonic switching technologies to unleash the full potential of optical communication for low cost/ low energy data center interconnections.

To realize a low latency and scalable optical data center networks, innovative data center architectures supported by novel photonic switches and fast control system are needed for transparently switching ultra-high-capacity data traffic and fast reconfiguration of the optical network. In order to fully optimise the network capacity by optimally utilizing the optical spectra of the multichannel wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) channels at different data rates, lossless and fully flexible photonic integrated switching nodes with fast reconfiguration and fully programmability are key enablers to realize the high capacity and low cost data center interconnected systems. This PhD project aims to develop a high performance fully flexible optical data center networks system leveraging innovative photonic integrated components at the switching level. The PhD will investigate and design novel scalable and disaggregated network architectures based on WDM optical cross-connect switch nodes using photonic integrated devices to deliver switching at various granularities (wavelength, space, and time switching operation). The aim is to explore ways to deliver a modular pay as you grow architecture where sub-systems can be re-arranged to handle services and traffic demands. The PhD will also address the definition, implementation, integration, and testing of various fast control and scheduling algorithms that will support the fast reconfiguration and management of the servers as well as machine learning computing cluster traffic patterns.

Responsibilities and tasks

To achieve the project objectives, the project is organized into several main activities:

  • Investigate novel scalable optical data center architectures based on photonic switching technologies and numerically assess the performance via software simulation tools.
  • Design, simulate, fabricate and test state of the art photonic integrated switches for optical data center networks exploiting diverse photonic technology platforms.
  • Develop the packaging design for the photonic integrated switches, including the optoelectronic interfaces and controls to enable remote reconfiguration operation.
  • Develop and evaluate fast and efficient scheduling algorithms for fast control and reconfiguration of the optical data center network.
  • Realize a small-scale servers and computing clusters lab testbed to demonstrate the low latency data center network operation based on the developed fast photonic switching circuits and control.
  • The PhD candidates will contribute to the TU/e efforts in establishing collaboration with the other researchers in the project and contribute to the related project reporting, scientific publication and dissemination activities.

    Job requirements

    Candidates for this challenging projects must have:

    • Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering or in Applied Physics.
    • Solid knowledge of optical fiber communications techniques and/or for photonic devices and circuits.
    • Solid skills in one or two programming languages e.g. OPNET, OMNET, and VHDL, Verilog HDL FPGA programming.
    • Knowledge of optical networking and network control. Software simulation tools for optical networks control and management are appreciated.
    • He/she must be familiar with optical and electronic laboratory measurement equipment, optical fiber system and components, semiconductor devices, and electronic circuits.
    • Previous cleanroom experience will be considered an advantage but is not required.
    • Proven team-working capabilities and communication skills
    • English proficiency (both verbal and written)
    • Willingness to start as soon as possible

    Conditions of employment

    A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:

    • Full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months. You will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
    • Salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, paid pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale P (min. €2,770 max. €3,539).
    • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
    • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self-aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we challenge you to take charge of your own learning process .
    • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
    • An allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
    • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.

    Information and application

    About us

    Eindhoven University of Technology is an internationally top-ranking university in the Netherlands that combines scientific curiosity with a hands-on attitude. Our spirit of collaboration translates into an open culture and a top-five position in collaborating with advanced industries. Fundamental knowledge enables us to design solutions for the highly complex problems of today and tomorrow.
    Curious to hear more about what it’s like as a PhD candidate at TU/e? Please view the video.


    If you can see yourself in this position and would like to find out more information, please contact Prof. Nicola Calabretta [email protected]

    Visit our website for more information about the application process  or the conditions of employment.  You can also contact HR Services, [email protected]

    Are you inspired and would like to know more about working at TU/e? Please visit our career page .


    We invite you to submit a complete application by using the 'apply now'-button on this page.
    The application should include a:

    • A cover letter explaining your motivation and suitability for the position;
    • A detailed Curriculum Vitae;
    • A written scientific report in English (MSc thesis, traineeship report or scientific paper)
    • Copies of diplomas with course grades (transcripts).

    We look forward to receiving your application and will screen it as soon as possible. The vacancy will remain open until the position is filled.

    Similar Positions