Terabit-Scale Orbital AngularMomentum Mode DivisionMultiplexing in Fibers
Alan E. Willner,
Internet data traffic capacity is rapidly reaching limits imposed by optical fiber nonlinear effects. Havingalmost exhausted available degrees of freedom to orthogonally multiplex data, the possibility is nowbeing explored of using spatial modes of fibers to enhance data capacity. We demonstrate the viability ofusing the orbital angular momentum (OAM) of light to create orthogonal, spatially distinct streams ofdata-transmitting channels that are multiplexed in a single fiber. Over 1.1 kilometers of a speciallydesigned optical fiber that minimizes mode coupling, we achieved 400-gigabits-per-second datatransmission using four angular momentum modes at a single wavelength, and 1.6 terabits persecond using two OAM modes over 10 wavelengths. These demonstrations suggest that OAM couldprovide an additional degree of freedom for data multiplexing in future fiber networks.
he data-carrying capacity of single-modeoptical fibers has increased by four ordersofmagnitude inthepastthreedecades(
), primarilybecauseofmultiplexingtechniquesthat use wavelength, amplitude, phase, and polariza-tion of light to encode information (Fig. 1A). Asthe capacity of the current optical fiber systemsreaches limits imposed by nonlinear effects (
),the possibility of spatial-division
multiplexingmethods by use of multicore (
) and multimode(
)fibershasemergedtoaddresstheforthcomingcapacity crunch. Although multicore fibers potentially require more complex manufacturingthan do circularly symmetric multimode fibers,conventional multimode fibers suffer from modecoupling caused by random perturbations in fi- bersorincompletemode-conversion(
).Methodsthat have been developed to address the problemof mode coupling so far have been dependent oncomputationallyintensivedigitalsignalprocessing(DSP) algorithms, and have been based either onadaptive optics feedback (
) or complex multiple-inputmultiple-output(MIMO)methodologies(
).We show a method that offers a means of in-creasing network throughput without using com- plex DSP algorithms, but instead by using fiber modes that carry orbital angular momentum(OAM).Asoneofthemostfundamentalphysicalquantities in classical and quantum electrody-namics, OAM of light has initiated widespreadinterest in many areas, including optical tweezers,atom manipulation, and optical communications(
).PhotonsthatcarryOAMhaveahelicalphaseof electric field proportional to exp(
is topological charge, and
is the azimuthalangle (
). Several classical (
) and quantum (
)communications experiments have exploited theinherentorthogonalityofOAMmodesinfreespace bymultiplexinginformationin this additional de-gree of freedom, increasing the capacity of free-space communications links. In fibers, however,OAM beams were considered to be completelyunstable owing to mode coupling, and only short-length fiber propagation, without data transmis-sion, has been demonstrated (
).TheOAM mode-division multiplexing(OAM-MDM) concept used here is illustrated in Fig. 1Band is based on multiplexing two fundamentalfiber modes of opposite spins (circular polariza-tions), with the two OAM fiber modes of oppo-site topological charges
1. The three keyenablers for our demonstration are (i) a multi- plexing setup, comprising spatial light modula-tors(SLMs) and conventional free-space optics(conceptually illustrated in Fig. 1, C and D), that enabled <
21 dB of multiplexing crosstalk; (ii) acircularly symmetric specialty fiber fabricated onacommercialmanufacturingsetupthatminimizedmode coupling, leading to <
10 dB of crosstalk
DepartmentofElectrical andComputerEngineeringandPho-tonics Center, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA.
Department of Electrical Engineering, University of SouthernCalifornia, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.
School of ElectricalEngineering, Tel Aviv University, 69978 Tel Aviv, Israel.
OFS-Fitel, 2605 Brøndby, Denmark.*These authors contributed equally to this work.
Corresponding author. E-mail: email@example.com (S.R.); firstname.lastname@example.org (A.E.W.)
Fig. 1. The OAM-MDM principle.
) OAM may be considered as an or-thogonal degree of freedom for datamultiplexing. (
) Simplified OAM-MDMsetup: four modes with distinct valuesof OAM (
) and spin (or circular polar-ization,
) are multiplexed into a specialtyfiber, transmitted for 1.1 km, demulti-plexed, and analyzed at the output byusing BER testers and cameras. (
) OAMconversion of
1 is achievedby using spiral phase patterns (SPPs)(the spiral pattern has opposite helicityfor the
1 case). (
) Spin con-version to
1 is implemented witha quarter wave plate (QWP) whose fastaxis is oriented
45° with respect tothe input (linear) polarization.
VOL 340 28 JUNE 2013