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Purdue University

Fiber Optic Communications

Purdue University via edX


This course will aim to introduce students to the fundamentals of fiber optic communications, which constitute the backbone of the internet. The course will start with a refresher on the operation of key components needed for an effective fiber optic communication system, and then show how these components interact at a system level. Finally, the course will conclude with outlook for future research in extending the capabilities of these networks to higher bandwidths and quantum-secured communications.

Students taking this course will be required to complete four (4) proctored exams using the edX online Proctortrack software.
Completed exams will be scanned and sent using Gradescope for grading by Professor Bermel.
During the proctored exams, this course will follow the Purdue University ECE policy, the calculator must be a Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS scientific calculator. ONLY the Texas Instruments TI-30X IIS scientific calculator will be allowed.

Fiber Optic Communications is one course in a growing suite of unique, 1-credit-hour short courses being developed in an edX/Purdue University collaboration. Students may elect to pursue a verified certificate for this specific course alone or as one of the six courses needed for the edX/Purdue MicroMasters program in Nano-Science and Technology. For further information and other courses offered and planned, please see the Nano-Science and Technology page. Courses like this can also apply toward a Purdue University MSECE degree for students accepted into the full master’s program.


Week 1: Optical Fibers

  • Fiber Optic Systems
  • Optical Transmitters

Week 2: Optical Transmitters

  • Lasers
  • Semiconductor Lasers

Week 3: Fundamental Concepts in Optical Communications

  • Optical Telecommunications System Limitations
  • Optical Amplifiers

Week 4: Current Optical Communication Network Architecture

  • Wavelength Division Multiplexing
  • Modulation Formats

Week 5: Future Optical Networks

  • Networking Growth
  • On-Chip Interconnects
  • Quantum Cryptography
  • Quantum Networks

Taught by

Peter Bermel and Sayan Roy

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