ECE 60431 - Fiber Optic Communications


This course runs the last five weeks of the semester and is offered through edX.

Course Details

Lecture Hours: 3 Credits: 1

Areas of Specialization:

  • Fields and Optics

Counts as:

Normally Offered:

Each Spring


On-campus and online


ECE 60400 [may be taken together]; Graduate standing

Requisites by Topic:

Electromagnetic Field Theory

Catalog Description:

This course will aim to introduce students to the fundamentals of fiber optic communications, which constitute the backbone of the internet. The course will start with a refresher on the operation of key components needed for an effective fiber optic communication system, and then show how these components interact at a system level. Finally, the course will conclude with outlook for future research in extending the capabilities of these networks to higher bandwidths and quantum-secured communications.

Required Text(s):

  1. Fiber-optic Communication Systems , 4th Edition , Govind P. Agrawal , John Wiley & Sons, New York , 2010 , ISBN No. 0470505117

Recommended Text(s):


Learning Outcomes

  • Calculate the number of optical modes supported by a given fiber
  • Calculate the field profile associated with the LP01 mode
  • Calculate the photon emission rate of an LED for a given input current
  • Calculate the threshold power required for a generic 4-level laser to initiate lasing
  • List the conditions under which a semiconductor heterojunction can initiate lasing
  • Calculate the benefit of quantum confinement in reducing the lasing threshold for semiconductor lasers
  • Calculate the bandwidth limit for optical telecommunications
  • Describe the requirements for an optical amplifier in an optical communications network
  • List two physical effects that can provide sufficient amplifications for potential use in an optical communications network
  • Describe the difference between wavelength division multiplexing, code division multiplexing, and time division multiplexing
  • Calculate the relative information density of phase-shift keying versus frequency-shift keying
  • Describe the typical architecture of a hybrid packet and optical communications network
  • Describe what a soliton is and how it might benefit optical communications
  • Explain the benefits and drawbacks of on-chip optical interconnects compared to electrical interconnects
  • Describe the fundamental challenges of building a quantum communications network.

Lecture Outline:

Week Major Topics
1 Optical fibers: wave propagation, dispersion, and loss
2 Optical transmitters and receivers: materials, sources, modulation, speed limitations
3 Fundamental concepts in optical communication networks: power, noise, and speed
4 Current optical communication network architectures: TDM, DWDM, QPSK, QAM
5 Future optical networks: fiber-to-the-home, data centers, quantum key distribution

Assessment Method:

Quizzes and Exams