• Technical Conference:  30 March – 03 April 2025
  • Exhibition: 01 – 03 April 2025
  • Moscone Center, San Francisco, California, USA

10 March 2020

Visionary Speakers Explore the Future of Optics Communications, 5G Innovations and Astronomy’s New Frontiers at OFC 2020

Global world-renowned researchers headlined the largest global conference and exhibition for optical communications and networking professionals

SAN DIEGO – At the 2020 Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exhibition (OFC), three global visionaries headlined the plenary session on Tuesday, 10 March at the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, California, U.S.A. Speakers included Sir David Payne, director of the Optoelectronics Research Center, University of Southampton, U.K.; Dr. Qi Bi, chief technology officer of the China Telecom Research Institute, Beijing; and Dr. Benno Willke, research group leader of the Laser Interferometry and Gravitational Wave Astronomy, Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, Germany.

Plenary 1: Professor Sir David Payne

In his presentation titled, “Is there a future for silica as an optical material?” Professor Payne discussed the opportunities for photonics and the need for understanding that photonics is at a crucial time of change. He examined the question of what opportunities are next for photonics research and the markets that could utilize photonics, such as LiDAR which is important for the sustained development of driverless vehicles, data storage, optical data centers and many more.  Payne acknowledges that  “Materials are incredibly important in photonics, such as the very first silica low-loss fiber, and we now have a wide range of materials and the challenge becomes how to integrate these together in a cost effective way.” He argues “Hollicol fiber is a totally radically different and cost effective way of approaching optical telecommunications.”  Further advances in optical losses, further integration, and quantum applications are key points that Payne believes the OFC community can tackle in the future. 


Plenary 2: Dr. Qi Bi

Dr. Bi presented on the, “5G Evolution: Challenges and Opportunities” particularly for service providers with either speed or delay and various applications. 5G research began immediately after the deployment of 4G and was accelerated through service providers such as Verizon and AT&T. Bi acknowledged the significant developments that China made in 2019 to deploy the largest commercial 5G network nationwide using the 3GPP standard. By year end, operators plan to deploy or accelerate large scale 5G network all over the world. “The defining feature of 5G innovations is the use of massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO),” he explains.


Plenary 3: Dr. Benno Willke

The plenary concluded with a presentation from Dr. Willke titled, “The challenge and impact of detecting ripples in spacetime.”  Willke discussed two major breakthroughs in astronomy – the detection of gravitational waves for the first time and technology advances that made this detection possible as well as the detection of neutron stars.  Willke shared what he feels is a new way of looking at the universe. “This new sense is explained through gravitational wave and astronomy allows us to detect objects in the sky that are not visible with electromagnetic telescope,” he notes. The future of astrophysics is particularly relevant to the OFC community as this future will rely heavily on optics and fiber lasers and amplifiers.

The plenary session reached both an in-person audience and was available to a global audience via free streamed webcast. A recorded version of the plenary will be available on Wednesday, 11 March at the following web address: https://www.ofcconference.org/home/program-speakers/access-remote-sessions


About OFC

The Optical Fiber Conference and Exhibition (OFC) is recognized as the largest global conference and exhibition for optical communications and networking professionals in the world. For nearly 50 years, OFC has drawn attendees from all corners of the globe to meet and greet, teach and learn, make connections and advance the communications industry. OFC captures the pulse of the entire optical networking and communications industry by featuring dynamic business programming, exhibitions by more than 700 companies, and high impact peer-reviewed research. OFC is managed by The Optical Society (OSA) and cosponsored by OSA, the IEEE Communications Society (IEEE/ComSoc) and the IEEE Photonics Society.