Sep 02 2021

Dr Shyqyri HaxhaDepartment of Electronic Engineering, has recently been awarded two patents for his Microwaves Photonics research. We recently caught up with him to ask what it means to be awarded these patents and what inspired his research focus. 

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the Department of Electronic Engineering?

I joined Royal Holloway in April 2018. I have combined industry and academic expertise having spent several years working in the telecom industry. I noticed a gap between industry and academic work and desired to work closely between the two sectors. As a result of this, I established a unique student interaction with leading UK industries through research and MEng group projects, whereby, MEng students work on industry founded co-supervised by industry experts. My main role in the department consists of teaching two modules; Controlled Engineering in second year and Advanced Communication Systems in third year. I play an active role as project coordinator of MEng industry funded projects, PGR departmental lead and currently supervise eight PhD students. Last academic year, three of my PhD students completed their studies successfully and was pleased to see that they were also the first Phd students that have graduated from our newly established electronic engineering department.

2. You were recently awarded two patents for your research in Microwave Photonics – congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about what it means to be awarded these patents for your ideas?

To be awarded a patent credits your ideas for being unique and novel. It is a big achievement as this novelty becomes recognised/validated by The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) - the official UK government body responsible for intellectual property (IP) rights including patents, designs, trademarks and copyright. Filing patents proves costly and so I was lucky that these three patent awards are fully funded by leading UK industry in the field, Leonardo UK LTD. Having recognised patents benefits interactions with leading industries and have seen to have a direct impact to the commercial application within the engineering sector, that will benefit the UK and wider industry/scientific community. I consider this a great achievement for my team as our success derived from identifying a niche in the market, conducting the required research and approaching solutions alongside skilled engineering teams that specialise in the industry. The patents that have been awarded have meant that we can tackle complex engineering environments and solving major challenges in the future advanced communication systems. Such areas have been filtering, optimization and linearization of microwave photonic links and microwave photonic mixer systems. The work conducted behind these patents have provided us with the unique control over harmonic distortions products and remove intermodulation distortions for multi signal frequency mixing. Therefore, I’d say that the patents have proved significance in improving future ultra-high-speed signal processing in fibre optic communications, ‘5G/6G and beyond’ mobile communications particularly, within the aerospace industry as well as the security & defence sector. 

3. You established and are the Director of the Microwave Photonics and Sensors (MPS) research group at the College. What inspired you to focus your research on Microwave Photonics and Sensors?

I am proud to say that with the support from industry, I’ve managed to establish a leading Microwave Photonics and Sensors (MPS) group with a unique wide range of theoretical, simulations and experimental research topics. The MPS group utilizes a cutting-edge ‘Radio over Fiber Optic Communication’ laboratory which has been mainly funded by industry (Leonardo-Electronics - Defence & Security Systems). The MPS research group has been developing the photonics-based technology for application in both fibre optic digital telecommunication and analogue radio over fibre communication systems, including aerospace, defense, satellite-to-ground downlink communication system, devices and systems for cybersecurity applications. These developments have exploited Commercially Of The Shelf (COTS) single mode telecommunication devices through novel advanced systems architectures. This is a well-respected engineering approach that allows us to obtain industry practise with products used in real world threat environments. The frequent usage of industry and its equipment’s has had huge potential for generating funds within the college. The characteristics of Microwave Photonics have had a strong influence in the defense and commercial telecom sector that has benefit the MPS group to both develop and experimentally demonstrate non-invasive wearable body sensors for continuous monitoring of Blood Pressure, Blood Oxygen Saturation (SpO2) and Glucose Levels in the blood. In addition to this, the MPS group have gone on to develop optical imaging techniques such as Raman spectroscopy and Brillouin microscopy imaging for next generation biophotonics imaging methods and devices, as research tools to understand the cellular origin of diseases. In other words, the Microwave Photonics and Sensors research has been actively playing a part in all future advanced engineering technology with broad applications extending to real-life problems. 

These characteristics of Microwave Photonics have a strong influence in the defense and commercial telecom sector. The MPS group is utilizing a cutting-edge Radio over Fiber Optic Communication laboratory which is mainly funded by industry, Leonardo-Electronics, Defence & Security Systems.

4. What do you enjoy most about working at Royal Holloway?

The Electronic engineering department at Royal Holloway is a very special department to work with. The working atmosphere is very inclusive and the team companionship makes it a very close community. The motivation, support and compassion among the staff and students is exceptional. One thing I notice instantly is that everyone shows passion and desire for the industry. Our key value is enabling the support of all our students, this helps us all unite and provide assistance to all students so they never feel disengaged with our staff. I have to say, I am pleased to be a part of this department and its harmonious working environment!

5. How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

I’d say I am quite active, I enjoy running and often practise Karate. I enjoy long walks with the family and often take trips to visit historical landmarks and museums. As a child I was always curious about the world around me and how things work – more specifically related to engineering – cars, factories & computers! I am now evermore fascinated by historical stories, in particular when it involves the work of successful individuals that have sacrificed a lot to help improve the lives of those in need.