PhD Optical wireless communication for delivery of high-capacity services (V36.3123)

PhD Optical wireless communication for delivery of high-capacity services

Faculteit Electrical Engineering


Vacancy for PhD student at Eindhoven University of Technology Optical wireless communication for delivery of high-capacity services. 

Eindhoven University of Technology ( ) is one of Europe’s top technological universities, situated at the heart of a most innovative high-tech region, with a wealth of collaborations with industry and academic institutes. In 2015, TU/e was ranked 106th in the Times Higher Educational World University ranking and 49th in the Shanghai ARWU ranking (engineering). TU/e has around 3,000 employees and 2,300 PhD students (half of which international, representing about 70 nationalities). 

The candidate will work in the Electro-Optical Communication Systems (ECO) group at the Department of Electrical Engineering ( ). Within this department, research and education is done in domains of Telecommunication, Care and Cure, and Smart energy systems. At TU/e, the interfaculty Institute for Photonic Integration (IPI; previously known as COBRA) performs research in the area of broadband telecommunication, by investigating the potential of optical technologies. As a key member of IPI, the ECO group focuses its research on optical communication system techniques, ranging from systems for ultra-high capacity long reach transmission (encompassing single-mode, multi-mode and multi-core fiber systems), ultra-fast (all-) optical packet switching nodes, high-density intra-data center networks, to multi-service flexible access and in-building networks (including radio-over-fibre and optical wireless communication). ECO participates in many national and international projects. 

Motivation and impact
Our society needs ever more data for economic activities, social life, leisure, health monitoring everywhere, environmental control, smart mobility, etc. etc. Many of these services have to be brought wirelessly to the users, which is done by today’s wifi networks (in the 2.4 and 5GHz frequency bands) and mobile telephone networks (4G,and 5G is around the corner). But their success is also causing deficiencies as radio spectrum is getting congested and connectivity is being mutilated. Optical wireless communication opens up a wealth of new spectrum, being the unlicensed optical spectrum of visible light (some 300THz wide) and of near-infrared light (12.5THz wide). Optical wireless communication can provide powerful alternative means to offload traffic from (congested) radio wireless networks.

By means of visible light, existing LED illumination systems can take care of communication as well. However, they have typically been optimized for lighting functions, and can support communication only at relatively low data rates, to be shared among users within the illuminated room, and over relatively short range.

By means of 2-dimensionally steered narrow infrared beams, however, wireless connectivity with huge capacity can be provided to devices individually, thus truly enabling exponential growth of data demands[1]. Moreover, it is EMI-free, so not disturbing other radio-based communication, and stays confined within rooms, so offering guaranteed privacy. It has minimal power consumption, as it offers capacity only there where and when needed. In the TU/e-ECO group, 42.8Gbit/s capacity per 2D-steerable IR beam has been achieved using DMT modulation, with a reach of 2.5 meters. Recently, this was extended up to 112Gbit/s with PAM-4 modulation over 3.4 meters. Also a hybrid bi-directional system with OWC downstream and 60GHz radio upstream was realized.

Optical wireless communication is not meant to fully replace radio-based wireless communication (e.g., it needs line-of-sight), but it can offload huge volumes of broadband data streams from the precious radio spectrum, which then is freed up for the many low-rate connections needed in e.g. the Internet of Things era. Optical wireless communication hence is a very promising technology for enabling the aspired world of pervasive communication. 

The PhD research domain
The PhD candidate will addresses the challenge how to extend truly broadband connectivity wirelessly up to the user himself by means of high-capacity infrared optical beams.

The research is part of the SmartOne programme, in which KPN and TU/e are cooperating to jointly investigate new high-potential directions in telecommunication networks and service provisioning. 

PhD research Objectives

  • Identification of the application domains of optical wireless communication (OWC), where and how OWC can add to/replace radio wireless communication.
  • Identify the pros and cons of the main OWC technical directions, notably omni-directional Visible Light Communication and beam-steered infrared light communication.
  • Design and implement a prototype demonstrator OWC system for indoor high-capacity wireless communication using 2D steered IR beams, encompassing the research challenges of user localization and tracking, control mechanisms for optical beam steering, and efficient techniques for optical beam reception/transmission at the user device.

[1] A.M.J. Koonen, C.W. Oh, K. Mekonnen, Z. Cao, E. Tangdiongga, “Ultra-High Capacity Indoor Optical Wireless Communication using 2D-Steered Pencil Beams,” IEEE/OSA J. of Lightw. Technol., vol. 34, no. 20, Oct. 2016, pp 4802-4809


  • MSc completed in Electrical Engineering or Applied Physics
  • excellent communication and analytical skills
  • fluent in writing and speaking in English
  • hands-on experience in hardware experiments in a laboratory setting
  • affinity with application-oriented research
  • knowledge of optical fiber communication techniques, communication systems, and hardware system design with optical components (lenses, gratings, …)


We offer a challenging job in a dynamic and ambitious university through a fixed-term appointment for a period of 4 years. The research in this project must be concluded with the attainment of a Ph.D. degree. As an employee of the university you will receive a competitive salary as well as excellent employment conditions. A salary is offered starting at € 2222.-per month (gross) in the first year, increasing up to € 2840.- per month (gross) in the last year. Moreover, an 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year allowance is provided annually. Assistance for finding accommodation can be given. The university offers an attractive package of fringe benefits such as excellent technical infrastructure, child care, savings schemes, and excellent sports facilities.

TU/e also offers you the opportunity for personal development by developing your social and communication skills. We do this by offering every PhD student a series of courses that are part of the PROOF program as an excellent addition to your scientific education.

Informatie en sollicitatie


Regarding the research activities:
Prof. ir. Ton Koonen, , tel. +31 40 2474806 Eduward Tangdiongga, , tel. +31 40 2473219

More information about employment conditions can be found here:, or contact Mrs. Tanja van Waterschoot, HR-officer,


If you are interested in this PhD student position, please use ‘apply now’ button. You must upload the following documents (in pdf):

  • A cover letter explaining your motivation, background and qualifications for the position,
  • A detailed Curriculum Vitae (including a list of publications and awards),
  • Contact information of two references,
  • Copies of diplomas and a list of your courses taken and grades obtained,
  • Proof of English language skills (if applicable), and
  • All other information that might be relevant.  

Please keep in mind; you can upload only 5 documents up to 2 MB each.