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Photonics Communications Research Laboratory - Institute of Communication and Computer Systems

Upper organisation
National Technical University of Athens
Research Center

Iroon Polytechniou 9
15773 Athens


The Institute of Communications and Computer Systems (ICCS/NTUA) of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the National Technical University of Athens (SECE-NTUA) was founded in 1992. It was founded with the ‘charta’ to support the deployment and realization of the research priorities of SECE and to pursue research funding via the competitive calls for research proposals that the European Commission had instigated. In turn its purpose has been to build a research personnel base alongside SECE’s faculty so as to conduct state-of-the-art research and at the same time improve the research laboratory equipment base and infrastructures of the School.

ICCS/NTUA forms the research arm of SECE/NTUA acquiring its funding resources from the European Commission (EC), the Greek General Secretariat of Research and Technology (GSRT), various Greek Public Bodies and the Industry. Funding is obtained through: (i) participation in competitive calls announced by the EC or GSRT and the positive evaluation of the submitted research proposals by independent experts (ii) contracts for the provision of research and development services according to the requirements of Greek Public Organizations and/or local and European Industry.

The Photonics Communications Research Laboratory (PCRL) ( was founded in 1995 as a research group of NTUA. It is led by Prof. Hercules Avramopoulos and currently numbers 8 Senior Researchers and 12 PhD students. Its research activities span within the following thematic areas:

  1. design and testing of integrated photonic components on various integration platforms (e.g. silicon, polymer, glass) with particular focus on the development of coupling interfaces between different platforms.
  2. design, implementation and system- & network-level testing of photonic devices and subsystems for optical communication networks and datacom/computercom applications, including innovative solutions for high-capacity, flexible optical transmission networks, all-optical signal processing systems/subsystems, multi-wavelength sources for wavelength division multiplexing systems, and novel optical network architectures for datacenters. For over 15 years PCRL has acquired extensive expertise in the design of EDFAs tailored to diverse applications, ranging from very low-noise preamplifiers for preamplified receivers to high power multi-Watt boosters for supercontinuum generation and FSO transmission. PCRL’s expertise led to the founding of two innovative start-ups that were founded by PCRL alumni (Exelite Innovations and Constellex Technology enablers, now acquired by Gooch and Housego).
  3. development and FPGA implementation of digital signal processing algorithms for optical communication systems, including modulation/demodulation of bandwidth-efficient and/or impairment-resilient formats (PPM, QPSK, M-QAM, M-PAM, DMT, OFDM, etc.), dynamic transceiver functionality for flexible optical networks, transmission impairment monitoring/mitigation, and advanced equalization techniques.
  4. design and implementation of photonic devices and subsystems for biophotonic sensing applications including food and drug analysis.

PCRL runs a fully equipped laboratory with state-of-the-art test and measurement systems and a broad range of passive and active photonic devices. The group has worldwide links and collaborations with top research institutes and industrial research organizations and its activities are supported by industrial grants as well as national and EU funded research programs. PCRL has significant presence and a proven track record with successful participation and leadership in a number of European projects like HAMLET, NEPHELE, ORCHESTRA, SPIRIT, PANTHER, POLYSYS, MIRAGE, PHOXTROT, PLATON and more.

Photonics Communications Research Laboratory - Institute of Communication and Computer Systems

Photonics Communications Research Laboratory - Institute of Communication and Computer Systems

Contact Person
Hercules Avramopoulos
Photonics Group Leader
is SME contact

In order to accomplish its research mission as well as its service provisioning activities to the industry and the SMEs, PCRL is constantly investing on the acquisition of equipment (software and hardware). More specifically, PCRL's assets focus on:

1. Modeling and Design capacities

  • Definition of specifications of photonic components based on various platforms: polymer, silicon, InP
  • Complete optical component design and modeling  platform of photonic components (Mask designer, ASPIC, BPM simulation engine, Field designer)
  • Custom and commercial photonic design at component and system levels (coupling elements, optical circuitry)
  • Design of custom passive photonic structures on polymer platforms. Optical coupling structures to other material systems (co-design with Si or III-V platforms).
  • Custom and commercially available simulation software suites spanning from integrated photonics design to photonic subsystems simulations.
  • A variety of solvers for addressing different types of electromagnetic problems, including FMM and FD mode solvers as well as EigenMode Expansion (EME), BPM and 2.5D/3D FDTD propagation solvers
  • Combined simulations of numerical solvers and ray tracing, for the combination of PICs with micro-optics.
  • Modelling of PIC building blocks and system-level simulations– performance estimation of PIC based devices in the context of optical interconnects and high speed coherent systems applications

2. Measurement, characterization and testing capacities

  • Laboratory characterization facilities enabling component-, subsystem and network-level experiments
  • Wafer- and chip-level measurement setups (up to 8-inch wafers).
  • In-plane and vertical coupling probe stations for the characterization of unpackaged photonic chips (6-DOF for sub-micron alignment accuracy).
  • High-speed probing up to 40-GHz.
  • Full-scale system test beds for the characterization of (i) high-speed optical interconnects and (ii) coherent transmission systems. Broad range of components and functionalities can be tested (multi-level signaling, optical switching, long-reach transmission via fiber recirculating loop etc).The test bed includes:
    • custom high sensitivity amplification circuits (Transimpedance amplifiers and OPAMPS),
    • electronic platform with bulk electronic boards,
    • FPGA evaluation kits and data processing algorithms and libraries are available for validation of complex functionalities
    • test bed for 56Gbaud/s (BER test sets, RF multiplexers/demultiplexers, RF amplifiers, 70 GHz photodiodes, coherent receivers up to 64 Gbaud)
    • test bed for loop transmission experiments

The Photonics Communications Research Laboratory has the capacity to perform research and provide solutions and services related with:

  1. Optical Interconnects: PCRL has been involved and lead research in optical interconnects through innovative concept definition, subsystem design, evaluation and valorization. The group is active in ultra-high capacity, flexible transceiver development, optical backplanes, on-chip interconnects and active optical cable systems. Ongoing research topics include advanced modulation formats, concept transformation to PIC designs over silicon on insulator, silicon nitride and polymer integration platforms and optical switching architectures.
  2. Digital Signal Processing: PCRL carries out research and development in DSP algorithms for both telecom- and datacom-oriented photonic communication systems. The group has been actively involved in developing algorithms that enable innovative single- and multi-carrier system concepts for 100G, 400G and 1Terabit optical channels, as well as programmable, multi-format optical transceivers for future flexible optical networks. Ongoing research topics include bandwidth-efficient digital modulation formats for both telecom and datacom applications (high-order M-QAM, sub-cycle QAM, multi-level PAM, DMT, Nyquist pulse-shaping), mitigation of linear and nonlinear fiber transmission impairments, DSP-based optical performance monitoring schemes, and real-time FPGA-based algorithm implementation.
  3. Photoinics Integrated Circuits (PICs): PCRL has been involved in research extending across most of the major application areas of Photonics, entailing PIC design as one of the fundamental parts of the development chain. The software toolbox of the group comprises FMM and FD mode solvers, 2D/3D FDTD, 2D/3D BPM and 3D EME propagation solvers as well as a circuit-level simulator relying on fast S-matrix calculations and a tailored CAD environment for design layout definition. Current research interests focus mainly on optical interfaces including out-of-plane (grating couplers, mirrors) and in-plane coupling (adiabatic couplers, spot-size converters, flip-chip couplers) structures, as well as standard and advanced passive photonic circuitry (directional couplers, MMIs, MZI filters, AWGs, thermo-optic switches etc.). The group has built-up wide experience with a range of integration platforms including Silicon Photonics, Glass, Silicon Nitride and Polymer.
  4. Optical Telecommunications: PCRL has been heavily involved in several optical communication research areas since its very early days. More than 500 PCRL papers have been publish in top reviewed journals and conferences, which have been referenced more than 1000 times. The ongoing research work performed in PCRL involves high-speed sources design and implementation, advance modulation formats, designing of high-speed transmission links, system/subsystem modeling, Digital Signal Processing and others. Moreover, PCRL has a long history of participation in telecom related national and EU funded research initiatives, coordinating more than 6 over the last 5 years.
  5. Biophotonics - Sensing: The PCRL has been involved in this specific research area through conceptualization and design of novel photonic devices with highly desirable features for photonic biosensors. Additionally we are involved in designing and realizing the electronic read-out systems of the biosensors, from the hardware up to software level (algorithms for digital signal processing). Being a multidisciplinary research area, the PCRL has established collaborations with highly qualified institutes in biochemistry, chemistry and physics.


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