Optical Space Division Multiplexing in Short Reach Multi-Mode Fiber Systems

The application of space division multiplexing to fiber-optic communications is a promising approach to further increase the channel capacity of optical waveguides. In this work, short reach and low-cost optical space division multiplexing systems with intensity modulation and direct detection (IM/DD) are in the focus of interest. Herein, different modes are utilized to generate spatial diversity in a multi-mode fiber.

In such IM/DD systems, the process of square-law detection is inherently non-linear. In order to obtain an understanding of the channel characteristics, a system model is developed, which is able to show under which conditions the system can be considered linear in baseband. It is shown that linearity applies in scenarios with low mode cross-talk. This enables the use of linear multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) signal processing strategies for equalization purposes. In conditions with high mode cross-talk, significant interference occurs, and the transmitted information cannot be extracted at the receiver.

Furthermore, a method to determine the power coupling coefficients between mode groups is presented that does not require the excitation of individual modes, and hence it can be realized with inexpensive components.

In addition, different optical components are analyzed with respect for their suitability in MIMO setups with IM/DD. The conventional approach with single-mode fiber to multi-mode fiber offset launches and optical couplers as well as a configuration that utilizes multi-segment detection are feasible options for a (2x2) setup. It is further shown that conventional photonic lanterns are not suited for MIMO with IM/DD due to their low mode orthogonality during the multiplexing process. In order to enable higher order MIMO configurations, devices for mode multiplexing and demultiplexing need to be developed, which exhibit a high mode orthogonality on one hand and are low-cost on the other hand.


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