Student Contributes to Enhanced Fiber Optics Switch for Faster Data Transfer

September 21, 2018

Masdar Institute microsystems engineering Master’s student Hossam Shoman has returned from a summer at the University of Tokyo where he helped scientists there develop optical switches to make fiber optics – the hair-thin fibers that carry large amounts of data at the speed of light – more energy-efficient.

The research Shoman contributed to could lead to significant boosts in the performance of telecommunication systems, among other applications that rely on optical fibers, the student believes.

Shoman’s extensive two-month internship was an eye-opening experience, where the young engineer realized that hands-on research with pioneering professors is a much richer learning experience than flipping through pages of the research literature.

“In research papers, only the successful results are presented. You will never read the failures the groups have been through until you try it yourself,” Shoman shared. His insights point to the important role that internships play in creating highly-skilled graduates, offering them a chance to see how theories play out with colleagues and leading professors of their field.

Shoman worked with University of Tokyo’s Dr. Yoshiaki Nakano, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Information Systems, and Dr. Takuo Tanemura, Associate Professor of Electronic Engineering, who are pioneers in the field of optical switching and lasers.

“Having a chance to work with them was an honor,” Shoman said. He also expressed gratitude towards his advisor, Masdar Institute’s Dr. Marcus Dahlem, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, who introduced Shoman to the field of photonics and helped secure his internship there.

During his internship, Shoman characterized a novel optical switching technology being developed at the University of Tokyo. Optical switches enable the data that’s being transferred through fibers – which is transferred in the form of pulses, or flashes of laser light – to reach its intended destination.

The skills he honed while there will help him carry out his Master’s thesis research, which focuses on increasing the capacity of fiber optic cables to transmit more data in an energy-efficient way by combining multiple wavelengths of light onto a single strand of fiber. His research is conducted through the Masdar Institute Center for Microsystems (iMicro).

“Some tools that I used at the University of Tokyo are very helpful in my research. Knowing how to use these tools will save me training time when I need to use them in the future. Also, I learned about the limitations of each tool, and shared this information with my research group here at Masdar Institute. We now know about some extremely valuable research tools,” Shoman said.

Shoman is the third student from Masdar Institute to intern at the University of Tokyo, following from a research collaboration agreement that Masdar Institute and the University of Tokyo established last year.

Shoman’s fruitful experience demonstrates that internships are a valuable two-way exchange – they help develop the individual student’s skills while also contributing to more productive research from which both universities can benefit. Masdar Institute is proud to meet the needs of both its students and research collaborators through dynamic internships like this one.

Erica Solomon
News and Features Writer
13 November 2015