A Quantum Optical Receiver for Ultra Sensitive Wireless Digital Communications

University of Birmingham

Liam is investigating how subtle changes in electromagnetic radiation (namely radio waves) can impact a beam of light, and how this information can be used to develop faster and more sensitive 5G receivers for a stronger communications network. It is hoped that by exploiting such scientific understanding, Liam’s team will pave the way for ultra-sensitive all-optical 5G receivers that can be distributed across optical fibres to pick up weak radio transmissions at higher rates with less power consumption.

As more devices are connected to the internet, there is a growing need to reduce the power consumption of such a dense network, whilst not reducing any capacity for digital traffic. Current dipole antenna technology is lacking in sensitivity and energy efficiency, so it is hoped that a new type of receiver will allow for greater sensitivity and reduce energy consumption. The project hopes to answer some key questions on this technology, including the practical and commercial deployment opportunities, the trade-off between sensitivity and data transfer rates, and how robustly can the device be manufactured for network roll-out. This project is the first in the world to investigate telecommunications applications of this potentially revolutionary technology.

Liam is a research professional at BT Labs, who has worked as a member of the network physics team since 2019. His work involves research into non-linear optics and how they can be incorporated into the 5G network in the UK. Liam holds a master’s degree in physics from the University of Kent. He has a keen interest in quantum mechanics, and this has many applications in his work.

“As we connect more devices, there is a growing need to reduce their power requirements without limiting their capacity. The most exciting element of this research is exploring the unknown and developing an entirely new 5G receiver technology, furthering our knowledge of how these devices will work in a practical environment.”