Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

'Fibre Optic Nonlinear Technologies (FONTE)' European Industrial Doctorate: 1 PhD Position available at Aston University, UK

    Aston University
    EngineeringCommunication engineering
    PhysicsApplied physics
    TechnologyFuture technology
    TechnologyTelecommunications technology
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    15/03/2019 23:00 - Europe/London
    United Kingdom › Birmingham
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

The Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AiPT) at Aston University (UK) is seeking to appoint a high-calibre Early Stage Researcher (ESR) to join the Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Industrial Doctorate Network on 'Fibre Optic Nonlinear TEchnologies (FONTE)'

Position: Novel design, coding and digital signal processing techniques for NFT-based systems

Location: Aston University (UK) and NokiaBell Labs (Germany), with secondments to project partners in the EU

Working time: Full time (36.5 hours per week)

Duration: Fixed-Term (3 years)

Starting: Jan 2019 or soon thereafter, but no later than May 2019

Salary: £32,750 gross per annum at the current rate of exchange plus a family allowance where eligible.



FONTE https://fonte.astonphotonics.uk/  is a European Industrial Doctorate (EID) consortium of high profile universities in the United Kingdom, Denmark, France and the Netherlands alongside the industrial partner Nokia Bell Labs (NBL, Germany), and funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) under Grant Agreement 766115.

Within FONTE-EID doctoral training will be provided to four Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) to develop and implement novel approaches to nonlinear Fourier transform (NFT)-based optical fibre communication. FONTE aims to bring this exciting new approach into commercial application with the help of its world leading industry partner, Nokia Bell Labs, Germany, where successful applicants will spent 18 months of their appointment.

FONTE Project Description

Fibre-optic communication systems form the backbone of the world’s communication infrastructure as they provide for the lion’s share (more than 99%) of the global data traffic. The ongoing exponential growth in network traffic, where data rates have tremendously increased over the last two decades, is pushing current technology towards its limits. It is widely accepted that the nonlinear transmission effects in optical fibre are now a major limiting factor in modern fibre-optic communication systems. Nonlinear properties of the optical fibre medium limit the aptitude of conventional techniques to increase fibre capacity by simply increasing signal power.

Most of the transmission technologies utilised today have been originally developed for linear (wired or wireless) communication channels. Over the past several decades, significant increase in achievable data rates was gained through the improvements and modifications of the overall linear current-generation transmission paradigm. However, there is much evidence that this trend is going to end within the next decade due to fibre nonlinearity. Therefore there is a clear need for radically different approaches to the coding, transmission, and processing of information that would take the nonlinear properties of the optical fibre into account. In turn, this aim requires the education and training of a new generation of optical communication engineers and specialists equipped with profound knowledge of nonlinear methods and techniques.

The FONTE R&D goals will focus on the development of disruptive nonlinear techniques and approaches to fibre-optic communications, extending beyond the limits of current technology. The project will bring about important innovative steps in the development of nonlinear Fourier transform (NFT) and its implementation in practical communication systems. The R&D tasks will be carried out along with multi-directional training activities of PhD students in the leading research centres in Europe with industry focused projects with 18 months spent in a world leading telecom centre - Nokia Bell Labs in Germany.

Within FONTE applications are invited for one PhD studentship as MSCA Early Stage Researcher, to be undertaken at Aston University within the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT) http://www.aston.ac.uk/eas/research/groups/photonics


The Role

a. Background of the PhD Project at AiPT

Nonlinear transmission effects in optical fibre are now a major limiting factor in modern fibre-optic communication systems. Nonlinear propagation effects make optical fibre channels very different from traditional linear communications channels such as wireless or copper cables. There is a clear need for radically different methods for the coding, transmission, and processing of information that take the nonlinear properties of the optical fibre into account. The nonlinear Fourier transform (NFT) that is to be used in place of the conventional Fourier transform, offers new opportunities for the development of fundamentally novel engineering techniques for the coding, modulation, transmission, and processing of information in optical fibre channels.

b. The role of the ESR:

The successfull applicant will work on the theoretical development and experimental verification of new coding and modulations techniques for NFT-based optical transmission systems with the objective to develop the most advanced NFT-based systems and gain an extra-high spectral efficiency employing novel design ideas, coding and digital signal processing techniques for NFT-based systems. The research will be carried out under cross-disciplinary joint supervision by world experts in optical communication in academia and industry: Prof. S. Turitsyn (AIPT, main supervisor s.k.turitsyn@aston.ac.uk), Drs Y. Prylepskiy (AIPT, co-supervisor y.prylepskiy1@aston.ac.uk), H. Buelow (NBL), and M. Yousefi (TPT). The studentship is offered in collaboration with world-leading industrial unit Nokia Bell Labs (NBL), Germany, where the successfull applicant will spend no less than 18 months and additional close collaboration and secondments to the other three FONTE partners, Technical University of Denmark, Telecom ParisTech, and Technical University of Delft. This ESR position is an integral part of the overall FONTE project and all students will receive comprehensive training in both technical skills and transferable skills through a series of carefully designed workshops, summer schools and secondments.

This is an outstanding opportunity to be part of an international network of world-class scholars working on state of the art technologies, joining one of the UK's largest photonics research centres, and integrate into an established experimental group working on the applications of the nonlinear Fourier transform signal processing method for the fibre nonlinearity mitigation and the development of the new generation of extra-high-capacity optical networks and related concepts. 

The position is available to start as soon as possible or in early 2019 (subject to negotiation) and the full local job advertisement ' Early Stage Researcher FONTE-EID' is available at https://jobs.aston.ac.uk or directly from the project manager c.doering-saad@aston.ac.uk


Salary: £32,750

An additional Family Allowance will be paid to eligible candidates according to the MSCA rules. The successful candidates will be employed on a full-time basis with a competitive salary in accordance with the MSCA rules and the personal circumstances of the applicant. The successful candidate will receive a financial package consisting of MSCA living allowance and mobility allowance, together £32,750 pa. Due to potential future changes in the Euro/Pound Sterling exchange rate over the period of the appointment, a corrective upward payments may be made if appropriate.

Eligibility criteria

Usual MSCA Eligibility Criteria apply and will be verified during the application process.For more information on MSCA, please see: http://ec.europa.eu/mariecurieactions.


The successful candidate will be enrolled at Aston University for a PhD. This FONTE position includes a UK/EU Fully Funded PhD Studentships, i.e. a fee bursary to fully cover the home/EU PhD tuition fees.
Applicants from outside the EU may apply for this studentship but will need to pay the difference between the ‘Home/EU’ and the ‘Overseas’ tuition fees, the difference currently being £12,005 pa in 2017/18. Confirmation that this funding support is in place for the full duration of the PhD studentship will be required as part of the application process.



Offer Requirements


FONTE is looking for candidates with exceptional skills in signal processing, optical communication or applied mathematics. Preferred skill requirements include experience in experimental work, knowledge of scientific programming and computing, physical optics, communications.  Knowledge in differential equations, mathematical physics, numerical analysis, information and communication theory, or machine learning is an asset. At a minimum, the successful applicant should have a outstanding BSc (first class or upper second class honours degre) or equivalent qualification in engineering or physics. Applicants holding a Master of Science degree (or expected to be awarded one soon) in Electrical Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Physics, or equivalent, are especially encouraged to apply.

For informal enquiries about this project and other opportunities within the AIPT, contact Prof. Sergei Turitsyn by email: s.k.turitsyn@aston.ac.uk

Specific Requirements

English language

For applicants from non-English speaking countries, it is necessary to have taken either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the British Council IELTS test (taken no more than two years before the start date of your course). Minimum requirements are:

  • TOEFL IBT: 93 (with no less than 23 in Writing, 19 in Speaking, 18 in Reading and 19 in Listening)
  • IELTS:  6.5 (with no less than 6.0 in Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening).
  • Pearsons English language test: 63 (with no less than 57 in each band)

Further information can be found at http://www.aston.ac.uk/eas/research/prospective-research-students/how-to-apply/

MSCA Eligibility

Applicants must be Early Stage Researchers (ESR), i.e. be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree.

Full-time equivalent research experience is measured FROM the date when the researcher obtained the degree entitling him/her to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited) – even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged. Research Experience is measured TO the first day of the FONTE employment contract of the researcher.

MSCA Mobility:

Researchers may not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the UK for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Evidence will be required at a later stage to demonstrate compliance.

Application process:

The position is also advertised on to the Aston University Jobs Portal https://jobs.aston.ac.uk/  as 'Early-Stage Researcher in European Industrial Doctorate “Fibre Optic Non-linear Technologies FONTE'' . Please complete the application here  and upload the following documents:

  • Scan of all pages of the current passport
  • Academic CV
  • Cover letter
  • Copies of course transcripts and diplomas (with certified translations if issued in a language other than English)
  • English Language certificate
  • MSCA Compliance Form (AiPT) - available as part of the application process

Map Information

Job Work Location Personal Assistance locations
Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Aston University
United Kingdom
West Midlands
B4 7ET
Aston Triangle

EURAXESS offer ID: 305014