Characteristics of homogeneous multi-core fibers for SDM transmission
Journal article, 2019
We describe optical data transmission systems using homogeneous, single-mode, multi-core fibers (MCFs). We first briefly discuss space-division multiplexing (SDM) fibers, observing that no individual SDM fiber offers overwhelming advantages over bundles of single-mode fiber (SMF) across all transmission regimes. We note that for early adoption of SDM fibers, uncoupled or weakly coupled fibers which are compatible with existing SDM infrastructure have a practical advantage. Yet, to be more attractive than parallel SMF, it is also necessary to demonstrate benefits beyond improved spatial spectral efficiency. It is hoped that the lower spread of propagation delays (skew) between spatial channels in some fibers can be exploited for improved performance and greater efficiency from hardware sharing and joint processing. However, whether these benefits can be practically harnessed and outweigh impairments or effort to mitigate cross talk between spatial channels is not yet clear. Hence, focusing on homogeneous MCFs, we first describe measurements and simulations on the impact of inter-core cross talk in such fibers before reporting experimental investigation into the spatial channel skew variation with a series of the experimental results including a comparison with SMF in varying environmental conditions. Finally, we present some system and transmission experiments using parallel recirculating loops that enable demonstration of both multi-dimensional modulation and joint digital processing techniques across three MCF cores. Both techniques lead to increased transmission reach but highlight the need for further experimental analysis to properly characterize the potential benefits of correlated propagation delays in such fibers.