This article was originally posted on ICCS news.
This week members of TRANSNET returned to the lab for the first time following national lockdown measures in response to COVID-19. On Thursday the 1st of July researchers from UCL's Optical Networks research Group (ONG) returned to the laboratory, showing promise that experimental research is starting to resume following a hiatus during national lockdown measures.
The return is part of the second wave of UCL's phased re-opening of the campus and precautions have been taken to ensure the safety of all researchers and staff. There will be limited access to the building, a restriction on the number of researchers, and use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and social distancing. The laboratory is the first to be re-opened in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering.
On returning to the lab new research will have to wait, with initial priorities to maintain equipment (worth £20M) that has been switched off during the closure. The equipment allows research of optical communications system, sub-system and transmission studies.
The team will also enable automation and remote control for elements of the laboratory, allowing measurements to be carried out by researchers working from home. Planned remote experimentation includes the testing of digital signal processing algorithms.
Experimental research projects will also be reinstated within the laboratory where work is developing technology for the next-generation of data-centre networks. This work, part of the EPSRC funded TRANSNET research programme, looks to develop a new system platform combining the group's world-leading system research and the hollow-core fibre technology for the next-generation data centre networks.
Leading the restart activity Dr Zhixin Liu, Lecturer in the Optical Networks research Group, said:
"The experimental work that we will undertake when returning to the lab is of great relevance following lockdown and looking forward to a post-covid society.
"During the lockdown we all became highly dependent on the quality of the communications, and it is unlikely this demand will decrease. As we create more solutions for remote-working and a digitally connected society it is likely demand on data communications will increase. It is our mission to provide UK and the world with technologies that meet the requirement of future digital infrastructure."