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The Photonics100: David Welch

With the deadline nearly upon us for nominations for The Photonics100 – our list of the industry’s top innovators in association with our sister title, Electro Optics – Fibre Systems spoke to previous honoree David Welch, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Infinera about the future of his work in photonics for optical networks.

What is the next big thing in your area of photonics research?  

The development of point-to-multipoint optical transceivers through frequency domain modulation (FDM) of digitally generated subcarriers (DSC).

What do you think the biggest challenges in your area will be over the next year? 

Working with the network architects to ensure the extraction of the full value that can come from a point to multi point system.

What is the biggest personal challenge you have overcome? 

Managing the wide diversity of applications for point-to-multipoint and how to manage this for the next generation of the technology.

What advice would you give to someone embarking on a career in photonics research?  

This area is a very rich space for innovation and the tool set is continuously evolving.  I would encourage those entering their career to embrace change and prepare to rapidly assess innovations.

Who has been the biggest help to you in your career?  

My early mentors of Don Scifres and Bill Streifer have taught me to establish a deep and thorough understanding, integrity of process and relentless push to achieve a superior customer experience.

Who, in your opinion, are the up-and-coming R&D ‘rock stars’ in your area or organisation?  

Rob Maher (CTO, Infinera) is very impressive. His knowledge depth and his passion to excel as a team leader is fantastic.


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