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Over 99% of all data generated will go through an optical fibre. Optical transmission systems form the foundation of the Internet and are slowly running out of capacity. We need a paradigm shift in how we design and test our systems to develop next-generation low-energy, robust and high capacity photonic networks

Research profile

Chigo Okonkwo is an Assistant Professor leading the high capacity optical transmission laboratory of the Electro-Optical Communications Group at the Institute for Photonics Integration, TU/e. He currently works on 2 key areas: Firstly, he is working to maximise the capacity of currently deployed single-mode fibre systems by employing advanced-coded modulation schemes and Probabilistic/Geometrically shaped signals and low complexity digital signal processing. More importantly, he is working on future proof transmission systems based on Space Division Multiplexing, and developing the novel optical components required to scale the capacity of the optical transmission systems towards Petabit/s transmission. This can be done by exploiting the various spatial channel of a multi-mode fibre or multi-core fibre.

Chigo’s research is also focused on the development of new measurement systems and his work has led to a provisional patent and several key publications in Nature Photonics, JLT and Optics Express. Since 2010, Chigo has built up a world-class high capacity optical transmission laboratory and collaborates with several industrial partners.

Academic background

Chigo Okonkwo graduated in 2002 with a Masters Honours degree in Telecommunications and Information systems at University of Essex, United Kingdom. After earning his PhD in Optical signal processing at University of Essex, he joined COBRA TU/e as a Post-doctoral researcher in 2010. In that period, he worked on schemes and architectures for High Capacity In-Building and Dynamic Optical Access Networks within the EU ICT projects (ALPHA, POF-PLUS and EURO-FOS) and a joint research framework project with South Korean research organization ETRI.

Between 2011 and 2015, Chigo worked on the EU project MODEGAP, his research focuses on Ultra-high capacity space division multiplexed transmission systems. From advanced multi-dimensional modulation formats to the optical and digital signal processing schemes required for such systems. Chigo is a Technical program committee member for European conference on optical communications (ECOC) since 2014. In 2018, he is the Sub Committee Chair for Digital Signal Processing track at ECOC and the General Chair for OSA Advanced photonics congress conference on signal processing for photonics. As a Senior Member of the professional organization IEEE, he serves as a reviewer and has (co)authored more than 180 publications in conferences and journals.

Education/Academic qualification

Electrical engineering, Doctor, University of Essex

1 Feb 20051 Feb 2009

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van Hout, J., Tafur Monroy, I., Kurtic - Brajic, M., Kurtic - Brajic, M., Calabretta, N., Johannsen, U., Okonkwo, C. M., Heemstra de Groot, S. M., Dubbelman, G., Patterson, D., Rommel, S., Cimoli, B., den Ouden, J., Sanders, R., Barros Carvalho, J. & Meyer, E.


Project: Research direct


van Hout, J., Tafur Monroy, I., Tafur Monroy, I., Kurtic - Brajic, M., Kurtic - Brajic, M., Witteveen, F., Johannsen, U., Okonkwo, C. M., Raddo, T. R., Patterson, D. & Sanders, R.


Project: Research direct

Research Output

30% Reach Increase via Low-complexity Hybrid HD/SD FEC and Improved 4D Modulation

Chen, B., Lei, Y., Liga, G., Okonkwo, C. M. & Alvarado, A., 2020, (Accepted/In press) In : IEEE Photonics Technology Letters.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access

Analysis and experimental demonstration of orthant-symmetric four-dimensional 7 bit/4D-sym modulation for optical fiber communication

Chen, B., Alvarado, A., Heide, S. V. D., Hout, M. V. D., Hafermann, H. & Okonkwo, C., 28 Mar 2020, In : arXiv. 2020, 13 p., 2003.12712.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

Open Access
  • Revisiting Efficient Multi-Step Nonlinearity Compensation with Machine Learning: An Experimental Demonstration

    Oliari, V., Goossens, S., Häger, C., Liga, G., Bütler, R. M., van den Hout, M., van der Heide, S., Pfister, H. D., Okonkwo, C. M. & Alvarado, A., 12 May 2020, In : Journal of Lightwave Technology.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • 11,700 km transmission at 4.8 bit/4D-sym via four-dimensional geometrically-shaped polarization-ring-switching modulation

    van der Heide, S., Chen, B., van den Hout, M., Liga, G., Koonen, T., Hafermann, H., Alvarado, A. & Okonkwo, C., 1 Jul 2019, OECC/PSC 2019 - 24th OptoElectronics and Communications Conference/International Conference Photonics in Switching and Computing 2019. Piscataway: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 3 p. 8817687

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

  • 5 Downloads (Pure)


    Asia Communications and Photonics Conference(ACP) 2018 Best Paper Award

    Bin Chen (Recipient), Y. Lei (Recipient), Domaniç Lavery (Recipient), C.M. Okonkwo (Recipient) & Alex Alvarado (Recipient), 28 Nov 2018

    Prize: OtherCareer, activity or publication related prizes (lifetime, best paper, poster etc.)Scientific

  • European Conference on Optical Communications (ECOC) 2018 Student Paper Award

    S.P. van der Heide (Recipient), J.J.A. van Weerdenburg (Recipient) & Chigo Okonkwo (Recipient), 27 Sep 2018

    Prize: OtherCareer, activity or publication related prizes (lifetime, best paper, poster etc.)Scientific

  • Optoelectronics and Communications Conference (OECC 2019) Best Paper Award

    Sjoerd van der Heide (Recipient), Bin Chen (Recipient), M. van den Hout (Recipient), Gabriele Liga (Recipient), Ton Koonen (Recipient), Hartmut Hafermann (Recipient), Alex Alvarado (Recipient) & Chigo Okonkwo (Recipient), Jul 2019

    Prize: OtherCareer, activity or publication related prizes (lifetime, best paper, poster etc.)Scientific

  • Activities

    • 2 Contributed talk
    • 1 Hosting an academic visitor

    A.M. Velázquez-Benítez

    Chigo Okonkwo (Host)
    6 Oct 2018

    Activity: Hosting a visitor typesHosting an academic visitorScientific

    Towards Higher Density Space Division Multiplexed Transmission Systems

    Chigo Okonkwo (Speaker)
    21 Nov 2015

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesContributed talkScientific

    High density space division multiplexed transmission systems

    Chigo Okonkwo (Speaker)
    13 May 2015

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesContributed talkScientific


    Research set-up

    1/09/18 → …