Researcher from Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs included in Popular Science magazine’s ‘Brilliant 10’ for pioneering work in fiber-optic communications

Sep 18, 2013

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Paris, September 17, 2013 – Dr. Nicolas Fontaine, a researcher at Bell Labs, the research arm of Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU), has been included in Popular Science magazine’s ‘Brilliant 10’ list of top researchers under the age of 35.

Dr. Fontaine was selected based on his work developing novel techniques designed to enable fiber-optic networks to meet the world’s insatiable demand for ultra-high speed data services and content. His research focuses on a technique called Space Division Multiplexing (SDM), which will make it possible to establish multiple, parallel spatial paths in a single strand of optical fiber, multiplying the amount of data the fiber can carry. This technique would be similar to packing multiple super highways – and all the traffic they carry - into the space taken up by a single super highway today.

This research is critical to the development of more dynamic, high-capacity optical transport systems, and complements Alcatel-Lucent’s recently announced Shift Plan, an industrial repositioning of the company from a telecoms generalist to an IP networking and ultra-broadband specialist. One of the key R&D priorities for the company is around the evolution to advanced IP/optical transport networks that can serve the booming demand for high-bandwidth data services such as high-definition video streaming, next-generation mobile broadband applications and cloud services.

Gee Rittenhouse, President of Bell Labs, said: “This kind of creative innovation, directed toward solving real-world challenges, is a hallmark of the research being done at Bell Labs today. Nick Fontaine exemplifies the spirit of exploration, experimentation and collaboration which ensures that Bell Labs will continue to introduce critical breakthroughs that not only benefit our customers, but society as a whole. We are thrilled that Nick has been recognized for this important work, which is playing an important role in helping Alcatel-Lucent maintain its leadership at the forefront of the development of the next generation of optical communications systems.”

One of Dr. Fontaine’s most notable recent achievements was finding a solution to one of the key challenges that must be overcome for SDM to become reality. The specific challenge is to find a way to move optical signals onto and off of new SDM fibers in a way that can grow as needed to meet evolving demand, has low signal loss and does not distort the various parallel data streams. Fontaine was able to invent an elegant solution to this problem that meets all of the above requirements. Perhaps even more importantly, the solution lends itself to cost-effective manufacturing by using a flexible technique whereby optical waveguides are written into miniature glass blocks using a high-power laser beam, very similar in spirit to 3D printing.

Jake Ward, Editor-In-Chief of Popular Science, said: “Popular Science prides itself on revealing the innovations and ideas that are laying today's groundwork for tomorrow's breakthroughs, and the Brilliant 10 is one of the most exciting ways we do that. This collection of 10 brilliant young researchers is our chance to honor the most promising work—and the most hardworking people—in science and technology today. This year's winners are particularly distinguished. One of them has crammed incredible amounts of data into fiber-optic cables, in effect supercharging the Internet. Another has developed a way of seeing all the viruses in an ecosystem at once. And another knows how to not just spot other planets that might be habitable—she can tell you what the weather is like on them. I'm proud to welcome them all as members of the 2013 Brilliant 10."

Useful links

To read about other recent awards and recognitions of researchers from Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs, please visit the Bell Labs Awards & Recognitions page.

To learn more about Dr. Fontaine’s selection the “Brilliant 10” read Popular Science’s article about the winners.

Alcatel-Lucent is rapidly accelerating investments in agile optical networking to help customers transform their transport networks, making them more robust, agile and flexible, boosting capacity and enabling them to support a mix of traffic so they can evolve their networks at their own speed. 100G/200G/400G market momentum and deployment continues to accelerate and Alcatel-Lucent thus far has deployed more than 6,300 100G units in more than 120 customer networks spanning more than 60 countries across all regions.


Alcatel-Lucent is at the forefront of global communications, providing products and innovations in IP and cloud networking, as well as ultra-broadband fixed and wireless access to service providers and their customers, enterprises and institutions throughout the world.

Underpinning Alcatel-Lucent in driving the industrial transformation from voice telephony to high-speed digital delivery of data, video and information is Bell Labs, an integral part of Alcatel-Lucent and one of the world’s foremost technology research institutes, responsible for countless breakthroughs that have shaped the networking and communications industry. Alcatel-Lucent innovations have resulted in the company being recognized by Thomson Reuters as a Top 100 Global Innovator, as well as being named by MIT Technology Review as amongst 2012’s Top 50 “World’s Most Innovative Companies”. Alcatel-Lucent has also been recognized for innovation in sustainability, being named Industry Group Leader for Technology Hardware & Equipment sector in the 2013 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices review for making global communications more sustainable, affordable and accessible, all in pursuit of the company’s mission to realize the potential of a connected world.

With revenues of Euro 14.4 billion in 2012, Alcatel-Lucent is listed on the Paris and New York stock exchanges (Euronext and NYSE: ALU). The company is incorporated in France and headquartered in Paris.

For more information, visit Alcatel-Lucent on:, read the latest posts on the Alcatel-Lucent blog and follow the Company on Twitter:

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