High spectral efficiency transmission using optical frequency combs
Doctoral thesis, 2019
Modern long-haul optical communication systems transmit data on all available single-mode fiber dimensions, time, polarization, wavelength, phase and amplitude. Powerful digital signal processing and forward error correction has pushed the per-channel throughput towards its theoretical limits and the bandwidth is limited by the erbium-doped fiber amplifiers. Maximizing the spectral efficiency (SE), i.e. the throughput normalized to bandwidth, is therefore of indisputable importance. Even more so in optical networks as large routing guard-bands drastically reduce the SE of traditional WDM systems. Flex-grid networks with optical superchannels can overcome this limitation. Superchannels consist of multiple tightly packed WDM channels routed as a unit. A comb-based superchannel is formed by encoding independent information onto lines from an optical frequency comb, a multi-wavelength light source fully determined by its center frequency and line spacing.
This thesis studies the generation, transmission and detection of comb-based superchannels. Focus is on profiting from unique frequency comb properties to realize systems with capabilities beyond that of conventional systems using arrays of independent lasers. Digital, analog and optical processing schemes are proposed, and combined, to increase the system SE. Superchannel modulation is investigated and a scheme capable of encoding independent information onto the lines from a frequency comb in a single waveguide structure is demonstrated. By combining overhead-optimized pilot-based DSP with a 22GHz-spaced soliton microcomb, superchannel transmission with record SE for distances up to 3000km is realized, closing the performance gap between chip-scale and bulk-optic combs in optical communications. The use of two optical pilot tones (PTs) to phase-lock a transmitter and receiver comb pair is studied, realizing self-homodyne detection of a 50x20Gbaud PM-64QAM superchannel with 4% pilot overhead. The PT gains are furthermore analyzed and a complexity-performance trade-off using a single PT and low complexity DSP is proposed. The scheme is used to demonstrate 12bits/s/Hz SE over the full C-band using 3x50xGBaud PM-256QAM superchannels and DSP-complexity reduction at distances exceeding 1000km is shown. Finally, a comb-enabled multi-channel joint equalization scheme capable of mitigating inter-channel crosstalk and thereby minimizing the SE loss from spectral guard bands is demonstrated.
Optical frequency combs
Coherent optical communication