Murray Hill, NJ, USA

David Neilson

Optical Transmission Group Leader



Dr David Neilson is Group Leader of the Optical Transmission Group of Nokia Bell Labs. He has been with Bell Laboratories in Holmdel NJ since 1998, where he conducted research on MEMS based switches and compensators, highly integrated InP based optoelectronic components and subsystems, the role of optical interconnects and switching for high capacity optical switches and routers and the energy consumption of networks.

Prior to joining Bell labs he was a Visiting Scientist at NEC Research Institute,Princeton, NJ, researching optical interconnects for high-performance computing.

He has over 150 publications and 37 issued patents in the field of optical interconnects, switching and optoelectronic devices. Dr. Neilson is a Bell Labs Fellow and Fellow of IEEE.


  • 1990     B.Sc. with 1st Class Honours in Physics, Heriot-Watt University, UK.
  • 1993     Ph.D. in Physics, Heriot-Watt University, UK. Thesis titled ‘Optical Nonlinearities and Switching in InGaAs Quantum Wells’. This work was in collaboration with and partly supported by BT Laboratories, Ipswich, UK.

Professional activites

OFC Technical Program Committee (2015-2017), 

LEOS Annual Meeting : Integrated Optics and Optoelec. TPC(2004-2008), Optical Interconnects and Processing TPC (1997-1998). 

IEEE/LEOS Annual Workshop on Interconnections within High-Speed Digital Systems : TPC  (2002-2009), Program Co-chair (2003, 2008), Conference Co-chair (2004, 2009), Workshop Problem Chair (2007)


C.R.Giles, A.M.Gottlieb, D.T.Neilson, ‘System and method for training an optical cross-connect comprising steerable switching elements’ US 6,411,751 June 25, 2002

D.M.Marom, D.T.Neilson, ‘Programmable Optical Multiplexer/Demultiplexer’ US 6,657,770 December 2, 2003

C.R.Giles, D.M.Marom, D.T.Neilson, R.Ryf, “Optical device with configurable channel allocation” U.S. 7,016,098 March 21, 2006

D.T.Neilson, ‘Dispersion compensator’ U.S. 6,996,343 February 7, 2006.

D.T. Neilson, R. Ryf, N.K. Fontaine, 'Wavelength-selective cross-connect device having astigmatic optics' US Patent 9,369,783 2016

M Thottan, A Vishwanath, V Sivaraman, D Neilson, 'Methods and apparatuses for adapting buffer capacity at routers", US Patent 9,154,452 2015

P.A.G.Bernasconi, D.T.Neilson, Wavelength router for a passive optical network US Patent 8,923,672 2014

Honors & Awards

  • Bell Labs Fellow
  • Fellow IEEE
  • Bell Labs President’s Gold Award for the WaveStar LambdaRouter, 2000.
  • Lucent Chairman’s Award for Bell Labs Research Summit 2005
  • Bell Labs Teamwork award for IRIS optical router May 2007