Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Professor David Lancaster

Main Campus
Mawson Lakes

Applications Close
10 Feb 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:
All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$29,863 p.a. available to domestic and international applicants

About this project

This project is to develop concepts and prototypes of high bandwidth laser based point-to-point communication networks. The HDR project is to develop concepts and prototypes for high-bandwidth free space optical communication systems that can be used in both terrestrial and space applications. 

A potential high impact of this technology its application as a satellite laser communications ground station.

This project will work within the emerging broad field of frequency comb optical transmitters, and frequency comb optical systems that have potential as a key enabler for high bandwidth laser free-space communication systems. 
  • Development of GHz+ waveguide chip frequency combs and integration with multi-channel modulation systems.
  • Investigate advanced adaptive optics to enhance data bandwidth in terrestrial applications. These will be based on machine learning algorithms coupled with high-bandwidth wavefront actuators.
This project complements existing research projects including a current SmartSat CRC project.

The SmartSat CRC project aims to develop chip-based frequency combs for application to free space optical communications particularly targeting satellite communications. The HDR candidate will be heavily involved in improving the downstream integrated components of the frequency comb to improve its optical communication bandwidth in terms of data encoding/decoding as well as signal transmission and detection.

This research may include 3D ultra-short fabrication of integrated waveguide devices, as well as fabrication technologies including fibre Bragg gratings and fibre components.

What you’ll do

We are aiming to demonstrate new concepts and prototypes of a high bandwidth laser free-space optical communication system.

We also anticipate to investigate an integrated approach to achieve low-cost parallel modulation of multiple signal carriers which will enable a wide range of applications. This will be based on use of multi-channel frequency combs that can be split up to provide multiple communications links. 

Theses include investigating and demonstrating:

(1)        Providing high overall data rates, which will be possible even when using low-order modulation schemes (binary phase shift keying (BPSK) or quadrature phase shift keying (QPSK)) per spectral line:

(2)        Use of individual spectral lines to enable techniques similar to orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) in traditional radio frequency (RF) communications, such as pilot carriers and simplified synchronization due to longer symbol periods.

In addition, once the outcomes are demonstrated, there would be benefit in partnering with industry (this could consider multiple parties). This may then take the form of subsequent, and more targeted demonstrations that we plan to result in industry incorporating this IP into their technology roadmap.

Where you’ll be based

This project will be conducted in the Laser Physics and Photonics Devices Labs at UniSA and will also receive support from the SmartSat CRC. The Laser Physics and Photonics Devices labs are state of the art laser/ optical/ device fabrication laboratories that have a strong track record and capabilities in laser physics and engineering. The labs are well equipped with a range of laser sources and spectral, spatial, temporal, frequency characterisation equipment that cover the visible to the mid-infrared, automation equipment, precision multi-axis free space manipulators, and an extensive range of optical components. The labs also operate state of the art ultra-short pulse CNC machining instruments for manufacture of photonic components. 

The LPPDL also specialises in development and testing of industry relevant prototypes.
  • The Smartsat CRC has regular professional development and networking opportunities for graduate students.
  • Smartsat CRC funding is also likely to be available to present at relevant international conferences.
  • The LPPDL labs are amongst the best equipped photonics labs in Australia, and the ideal environment to make maximum progress on this project.
  • SmartSat CRC and the LPPDL are well connected to industries associated with satellites and space exploitation.
Professor David Lancaster is the EOS Chair of Laser Physics at UniSA and Leads the Laser Physics and Photonics Devices Labs at UniSA. He has current relevant projects with the SmartSat CRC, DST and EOS. He has published over 90 journal papers, and has a h-factor of 31.

Dr Stephen Warren-Smith is an ARC Future Fellow in the Future Industries within the University of South Australia. His research focuses on exploiting unique optical effects within optical fibres combined with machine learning to solve sensing problems to meet the needs of industry. His background includes experience in soft-glass and silica microstructured fibre fabrication, fluorescence sensing modelling, surface functionalisation of optical fibres, optical fibre sensor development, fibre Bragg gratings, and ultra-high temperature sensing.

Dr Yongsop Hwang  attained his PhD in Physics from KAIST in Korea, specializing in theoretical modelling of subwavelength optical devices based on surface plasmon polaritons. Afterwards, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher and a research professor including at CSIRO and RMIT University. He has significant knowledge and experience in optics and photonics such as fibre optics, chip waveguides, nanolasers, photonic crystals, plasmonics, metamaterials, and 2D materials.

Supervisory Team 
Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses.  Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $29,863 per annum is available to eligible applicants. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information for domestic students or international students.

Eligibility and Selection 

This project is open to application from both domestic and international applicants.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time or part-time, and to be based at our Mawson Lakes Campus in the north of Adelaide. Note that international students on a student visa will need to study full-time.

Essential Dates 

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer.  Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Friday, 10th February 2023.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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