University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


PhD in Photonic networking (Microsoft optical technologies for the cloud)

Applications are invited for a Microsoft Research funded PhD project in the area of optical fibre communications. High capacity optical fibre communication networks are the technology that underpins modern communications, from the internet connecting continents through to base stations connecting mobile users. The PhD project will focus on understanding the complex interactions between the network demands, the advanced digital coherent transceivers that service these demands (each capable of transmitting more than 400 Gbit/s per wavelength) and the fibre infrastructure that interconnects the network transceivers. Given the high-dimensional space, coupled with the nonlinearity of the fibre this presents considerable challenges when the uncertainty and temporal evolution of the network demands are considered. Ultimately this project has the potential to define the future evolution Microsoft's optical networking infrastructure that underpins the cloud. The research will include both theoretical studies and experimental work using a state of the art 1200 km optical networking testbed.

The student will be based in the Department of Engineering, but will be part of a virtual research centre that Microsoft Research is initiating with the University of Cambridge, University College London (UCL), and University of Southampton to investigate and develop optical technologies for the cloud. The centre will take a multi-disciplinary approach to tackle big and open challenges with an aim to enable greater adoption of optical technologies in cloud infrastructure, including cloud storage, network and compute. The research will span a significant part of the cloud infrastructure ecosystem, ranging from photonics fabrication, to optical system and sub-system design, to co-design and integration with the rest of the data centre stack. The centre will provide a vibrant collaborative research environment, involving experts across optical and cloud research disciplines, with an open publications policy. Each PhD student will be hosted and supervised by a university faculty member and co-supervised by a Microsoft researcher. The student will also benefit from discussion, insights and feedback from practitioners at Microsoft and more broadly, through greater interaction with partners in industry and academia. Internship in one of the Microsoft Research laboratories may also be available, involving working on a project alongside and as part of a team of Microsoft researchers. The PhD student would be paid during their internship, in addition to their scholarship bursary.

The applicant should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2:1 (and preferably a Masters degree) in engineering or a related subject such as computer science, mathematics, statistics or physics. For informal enquires please contact Dr Seb Savory (email

Funding - Full funding for 42 months covering: the University Composition Fee for Home/EU candidates only, a tax-free stipend, and an allowance for travel and consumables, with effect from 1st October 2018.

Students from overseas are not eligible for this studentship and should not apply.

Applications should be submitted via the University of Cambridge Graduate Admissions web pages, with Dr Seb Savory identified as the potential supervisor

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.