Identification and Evaluation of New Application Fields for CERN’s Optical Data Transmission Technology

Sommersemester 2014


Initial Situation

The Optical Data Transmission technology is one of the latest developments invented by the ATLAS experiment group at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The technology was developed to facilitate the processing of vast amounts of heterogeneous data at high speed with full integrity under extreme conditions, e.g., in high-radiation environments like CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.

Project Target

The project’s objective is to find and evaluate commercially attractive and technically feasible application areas for the Optical Data Transmission Technology outside of CERN and the ATLAS experiment. Ultimately, the project team is asked to develop an actionable commercialization strategy for the most promising application fields identified.


The project was conducted based on the Technological Competence Leveraging approach. This method consists of the following interrelated steps:

1.    Identification of the benefits delivered by the technology

2.    Systematic search for new application areas by using broadcast and pyramiding search methods

3.    Analysis of the commercial potential of identified applications

4.    Development of a detailed commercialization strategy for the most promising applications                       


Based on more than 105 qualitative interviews with current and potential users of the technology, about 27 potential application fields were identified. In accordance with the project partner, three fields were selected for further analysis, among them the “Space Operations” and “Aviation”:

(1) Space Operations

The CERN-technology is of crucial significance for data transmission components in satellites, as it addresses some of the industry´s major problems (radiation, limited space). Currently there is no comparable data transmission solution in the entire market. Therefore several companies (TTTech, Thales Group, Gooch & Housego, ATI UK) and a number of organizations (ESTEC, ESA) expressed high interest in a commercial application of CERN´s data transmission technology. The global satellite manufacturing and launch industry revenue is rapidly growing and highly attractive (revenue 2012: $21 billion, 2013: $35 billion).   

(2) Aviation                      

CERN´s Optical Data Transmission technology could also be used for in-flight entertainment systems in airplanes. At the moment, traditional copper cables systems need to be made radiation resistant in order to resist electromagnetic influences. The new technology would not only make this extra effort redundant and ensure that less space and kerosene is needed. It would also provide large bandwidth capacity, EMI insensibility, and signal attenuations less than copper cables. The current market size is estimated to be $ 2Bn, and a growth up to $5.3Bn by 2020 is predicted.

Cooperation Partner

Student team

  • David Bauernfeind
    Bernhard Hegyi
    Bernhard Huber
    Florian Macheiner
    Richard Pöttinger
    Tobias Schliesselberger
    Jürgen Schweigler
    Phillip Strauss
    Sven Stühler
    Andreas Walleter