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Research Theme: Communications

Research Theme: Communications

Our research in communications is internationally renowned.

Secure and robust methods of communication are at the heart of many modern day technologies.

Our pioneering research is wide ranging across many sectors.

We're developing innovative, scalable approaches to encryption. We use optical technology and state-of-the-art materials to enable indoor, high speed internet access.

Our leading-edge technologies in underwater communications are used throughout the world. We use our MIMO base station to carry out research in 5G cellular systems.

A man standing by mobile tower with a mobile phone.

Encryption and secure communications

Computer networks and Internet use have grown alongside big advances in communications technology. These developments have made it possible to trade and exchange information from almost anywhere in the world.

Threats of interception are increasing in frequency and sophistication. Algorithms to prevent interception and enhance data security are now of primary importance

These algorithms must provide efficient encryption. They must offer security for fast evolving communication and storage applications.

We provide novel approaches to encryption and protocolscombined encryption and error control. We are developing scalable, secure and robust wired and wireless communications networks. We use these networks in data storage and secure applications, such as e-voting, e-commerce and e-health.

As well as being robust and secure, the encryption must be fast and cheap to install on different platforms. We develop algorithms for use on Small Devices, Digital Signal Processors (DSPs), and Field-programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), as well as on general purpose computers.

Optical communications

We are developing low-cost systems using intensity modulation of light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Conventional approaches to VLC have focused on increasing transmission speeds. We have challenged this by adopting new approaches. We have integrated state-of-the-art materials such as polymer LEDs (PLEDs). These are provided by our collaborators at the Organic Semiconductors and Nanostructures group at UCL.

We develop new digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms. These algorithms enable us to use field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). We use the FPGAs to implement new signals, advanced circuit design and real time link development.

Optical Communications: an abstract image showing fibres of light.

We have demonstrated advances in pulse design for zero inter-symbol interference. We have introduced many innovations in carrier-less amplitude and phase modulation in VLC systems.

Underwater acoustic communications

Radio waves are severely attenuated by sea water. Thus, sound waves are more effective for underwater communication.

The underwater acoustic channel is affected by severe multipath distortion, Doppler effects and non-Gaussian noise. We are developing advanced modulation, coding and receiver structures to overcome these issues. This enables reliable data transfer through the oceans, over distances from a few hundred metres to tens of kilometres.

Underwater Acoustic Communications: diver carrying equipment underneath a boat

Our research includes:

  • adaptive equalisation and beamforming for high data rate communication (> 10 kbits/s)
  • ultra-reliable low data rate spread spectrum communications (< 1 kbits/s)
  • low power, environmentally friendly communication
  • underwater tracking and navigation by acoustic ranging and direction finding
  • underwater wireless sensor networks (the “Internet of Underwater Things”) enabled by low cost, low energy acoustic modem designs

Our technology is used in commercial products. We work with companies such as Blueprint Subsea and Succorfish. These products are used throughout the world for:

  • the control and tracking of autonomous underwater vehicles
  • diver tracking, messaging and monitoring
  • subsea sensor data gathering

Our Sensors, Electromagnetics and Acoustics Lab develops world-leading research in wireless sensor systems and communications within extreme environments.

Our research is supported by EPSRC, NERC, Innovate UK and European Union funding. We collaborate with many other leading institutions, including:

  • University of York
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • National Oceanography Centre
  • University of Washington
  • University of Zagreb
  • University of Rome Sapienza
  • INESC-TEC ( Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science)
  • DSTL (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory)

Wireless communications

MIMO is a method for sending and receiving more than one data signal at the same time over the same channel, using multipath propagation.

Our research focuses on the design of novel:

  • spectrally efficient modulations
  • physical-layer waveforms
  • error-correction and detection schemes

These are used in massive (large scale), MIMO, multi-user and full-duplex network scenarios.

‌We have a strong track record in the area of MIMO transceiver design and error-correcting codes. We have received funding by industry and EPSRC for several research projects.

Wireless Communications: computer and equipment

We work with academia and industry, including:

  • Alcatel Lucent
  • BP
  • Silicon Infusion Ltd
  • Cambridge University
  • University of Southampton
  • Lancaster University
  • Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence (MoD)