Photonics research and development requires a complex set of expertise (from technology to networking) as well as very expensive equipment, sub-systems and devices. It is evident that such comprehensive facilities cannot be supported by any single institution. The members of the Pan-European Systems Lab have developed over the years a wide range of expertise and laboratory facilities in the fields of photonic components, systems and networks.
The EURO-FOS Pan-European laboratory environment enables the sharing of skills, facilities and equipments among the participating laboratories through research exchanges, moving technology and equipment and in some cases through actual interconnection of labs across Europe using high speed GEANT connectivity or cross-border Dark Fibres.
The EURO-FOS laboratory offers a unique enviroment to perform joint research between academic partners and companies using photonic research prototypes as well as to test research prototypes and/or commercial photonic components in system enviroments
The Pan-European Laboratory consists of Europe's top academic systems groups and through its members state-of-the-art system testbeds and advanced measurement equipment are offered for device testing and research and development on photonic subsystems.
Work on the creation of the Pan-European Lab (eurofoslab) started already from the beginning of the project aiming to set up the mechanisms, the procedures and the web-tools that would enable the integration and the management of resources (referring both to expertise and infrastructure/equipment) from the 17 participating institutes. University of Essex (UEssex) led the effort to come up with a practical structure that would allow the partners for:
- Registering their resources (expertise, photonic components, subsystems, systems, testbeds, installed fibre links, simulation tools) in common inventories.
- Searching for missing/complementary resources belonging to other partners using resource management tools.
- Reserving these resources and organizing joint experimental activities (JEAs) with the participation of other EIURO-FOS beneficiaries or with the participation of external industrial and academic partners.
- Reporting on the progress on the experimental activities providing updates on experimental results, validation of concepts and future plans for extending the scientific scope of the collaborations.
- Apart from their private domains addressing the 17 beneficiaries of the network, the web-tools of eurofoslab had also public domains that were exposed to external/unregistered users and allowed these users for searching the available resources and proposing joint experimental endeavours.
The Pan-European virtual laboratory web-based platform developed during the project, offers a set of web services and tools that have been maintained and improved, in terms of functionality, on a continuous basis throughout the whole duration of EURO-FOS. The backbone of the services offered by the Pan-European virtual laboratory are summarised as follows:
- Inventory service: The platform comprises a centralized data repository to store participants' offered resources including photonic equipments, test-beds, components and test and measurement facilities.
- Resource and facilities services: A set of web-based interfaces and services for resource owners and virtual lab users to enter information for registering their resources, listing, browsing and searching registered facilities and resources.
- Joint experimental setup, planning, scheduling and listing services: A set of tools and interface for the users to set up joint experimental activities, including allocation of the appropriate photonic resources, reservation and booking of experimental resources registered in the system, as well as tools for scheduling and planning of joint experimental activities.
Thus the platform realises an EU-wide based laboratory that virtually integrates and coordinates all existing photonic equipments, test-beds, components, facilities contributed the members of EURO-FOS network, at the service of any potential user beyond the consortium members: EU researchers, academic institutions, SMEs and industry engaged in R&D within the photonics area.
Through the continuous motivation and efforts from all partners, the eurofoslab was equipped at the end of the project (May 2012) with 840 items including:
- 57 systems and large-scale testbeds such as Terabit/s optical time-division multiplexing (OTDM) and orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) testbeds, coherent wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) testbeds, WDM transmission systems at 1550 nm (C- and L-band) and 1310 nm, radio over fiber (RoF) systems based on single-mode and multi-mode fibers, and other.
- 68 subsystems like complete optical line terminals (OLT) and optical network units (ONU) for access networks, transmitters, receivers and regeneration units.
- 419 components including a large variety of photonic, electronic and optoelectronic devices.
- 276 test & measurement instruments like optical and RF-spectrum analyzers, digital communication analysers, real-time oscilloscopes, auto-correlators, optical sampling oscilloscopes and other.
- 5 installed fiber links for large-scale field trials and demos, and
- 15 software suits for the simulation of optoelectronic components and lightwave communication systems.
Through this impressive collection of resources at eurofoslab, EURO-FOS facilitated shared access to expensive laboratory infrastructures, creating "economies of scale" in the development, testing and validation of photonic subsystems and systems. More significantly, the collaboration and synergy through eurofoslab allowed for new perspectives and a higher potential for the EURO-FOS beneficiaries in designing and participating in ambitious, large-scale experimental endeavours, otherwise not feasible due to the lack of equipment in the individual laboratories.
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