The University of Bath will lead a network of 12 EU universities and companies to train new researchers in the area of optical frequency combs in microresonators.

With €4M from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme to fund Innovative Training Networks, the consortium will establish and support the first European cross-sectoral training and research programme, between 2019 and 2023.

An optical frequency comb is a laser source whose spectrum consists of a series of equally spaced frequency lines. They can be used for very precisely measuring different frequencies of light waves, and therefore deliver extremely accurate measurements of time and distance. Miniature versions, microcombs, are produced by microresonators and are an emerging disruptive technology with applications in optical ultrafast data processing and precision spectroscopy and with many connections to fundamental quantum and nonlinear physics.

The project will allow to combine and share some of the world leading experience and expertise in microcombs and train a new generation of scientists in this area or research which borders physics and photonic engineering. It will also address a current lack within Europe of a structured and comprehensive training programme in this area.

Professor Dmitry Skryabin from the Department of Physics, the University of Bath lead for the network, said: “The network will expose early career researchers with the best expertise available in the area and provide them with stimulating research and training environment. Research wise we are expecting to explore new frontiers of fundamental nonlinear optics, to study highly nonlinear materials for frequency comb generation, develop photonic chips for data processing, and provide packaged solutions for the microresonator frequency comb devices.”

Early stage researchers involved in the proposed network will receive broad and well balanced training in device characterisation and fabrication, experimental techniques and theory and modelling in academic, research centre and industrial environments.

A programme of secondments and network wide events will ensure a high level of cross-country and academia-industry mobility for researchers. Soft-skills training events organised by industrial consortium members ( IBM, Menlo, AIRBUS and others) will provide researchers with career perspectives beyond their immediate research focus. As part of the network, two early-career researchers in theoretical and computational photonics will join Prof. Skryabin’s group at the University of Bath.

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract.